PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Drew Brown may not be playing hockey this season, but his locker is still there at Schneider Arena.
While the PC Friars competed for victory on the ice, Drew watched his teammates on a laptop battling something much different.
During a Hockey East game last March, Brown suffered a leg injury.
“I went into the corner, kinda got tangled up with a guy,” explained Brown, “got off the ice, couldn’t even put weight on my leg.”
Doctors then gave Brown an MRI as a precaution.
“There is a one in 10,000 chance that this could be tumor. We have to do an x-ray; we gotta do an MRI just to rule all those things out,” said PC coach Nate Leaman.
Doctors not only found a tumor in his leg, they discovered the 22-year old had a rare type of bone cancer.
It was Ewing sarcoma.
Back in his home state of Michigan, Drew underwent chemotherapy, attacking the treatment like he approaches his hockey career — get better every day.
But the silver lining to his diagnosis was that the cancer was found before it was too late.
“They’re always reassuring…how strong you are and everything,” added Brown. “I knew I wanted to beat it and do what I had to do, and come back to school.”
Now cancer free, Drew walking on crutches returned to PC over the weekend being honored by friends and fans for “Drew Brown Night” at the arena.
The Friar community came together with a video tribute and a standing ovation. Every number seven t-shirt sold at the game will be used toward his recovery.
“It was awesome,” he recalled. “I was trying not to get too emotional out there, I really want everyone to know that I appreciate it and how much my family appreciates everything they’ve done.”
And while Drew appreciates all the support, it’s the moments with the guys he truly cherishes.
And they miss him too.
“Getting him back here, it’s the same old, playing video games,” said teammate Ross Mauermann. “Just hanging out, joking around, it’s definitely fun to have him back.”
The Friars won Saturday’s game 10-1. But wins and losses take a back seat when Drew’s around.
“Having him as a friend and just knowing he’s a fighter, nothing can compare to that,” said teammate Noel Acciari.
Drew Brown will return to PC next year, still on a scholarship where he will finish out his degree and hopes to get back on his skates.
“I’ve been thinking about it for the past 8 months,” he gushed. “I’ve been skating now for 20 years, and it’s something you do everyday and then all of a sudden you don’t have it. You obviously think about it.”