Flyers help fan with brain cancer cross big item off bucket list


VOORHEES, N.J. — The scars on Kevin Chandler’s head can be seen from one side of his scalp to the other.

Or almost as wide as the smile he extends from one ear to the other.

Skating with Shayne Gostisbehere has that effect. So does shooting on Carter Hart or shaking hands with general manager Ron Hextall, which is exactly how Chandler spent his Tuesday morning.

Taking the ice with his childhood hockey team was a big item on Kevin’s bucket list — a list that caught the attention of the  Flyers, who welcomed the Chandler family to the Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Sept. 4 wasn’t just a random day on the Chandler’s family calendar. It marked exactly two years to the day from Kevin’s initial diagnosis of stage four glioblastoma — a very aggressive form of brain cancer with an average survival time of just 14 months — and the same incurable cancer that recently claimed the life of six-term Arizona senator John McCain.

“Obviously I feel lucky to be where I am in my life,” Gostisbehere said just before presenting Kevin with his very own personalized Flyers sweater. “Just to help people out who are going through a tough time. It sucks for sure, but you’ve got to make the best of it. Any time you get the chance to do this it’s awesome. A lot of guys didn’t have to stay out there and do it, but they care enough to do it. It’s cool to see and hopefully made his day.”

Wearing a Wayne Simmonds sweater from the 2012 Winter Classic, the 46-year-old father of five was upbeat as he laced up a pair of skates for the first time since he received the news of his tumor. He played hockey in his youth but now keeping his balance is challenging enough.

“Good, I think,” Kevin said when asked how he did, “I get tired easy from the treatments and stuff. Other than that I feel like I’m doing pretty good.”

A lifetime carpenter and cabinet maker, Kevin came home from work on a Friday afternoon with a headache. The next day he asked his wife to drive him to the hospital, and since that moment life has never been the same. Over the past two years, the Chandler family has endured a lifetime of hell as Kevin has undergone two craniotomies, as well as radiation treatments that have resulted in severe burning of his skin.

He has also undergone chemotherapy treatments one week every month, but the family was just informed last week that Kevin’s tumor is spreading and the current form of treatment is no longer effective.

“We have a couple of appointments coming up to figure out what the new treatment plan is going to be,” Kevin’s wife Megan said. “He’s still going strong. Moving forward, he’s pretty much beaten the odds so far.”

While Kevin still struggles with short-term memory loss, the one thing still ingrained in his brain is his anniversary, quickly rattling off September 20, when they the couple expect to celebrate 21 years of marriage.

It hasn’t been easy for Megan either.

She was four months pregnant with the couple’s fifth child, son Aaron, when they received the terrible news of Kevin’s cancer. But dad has battled a grim prognosis to hear his youngest child call him “Dad” and has even walked one of his daughters down the aisle on her wedding day.

Now that Kevin can cross the Flyers off his bucket list, the family is determined to help him with the remaining items, which includes roller skating with Megan as a reminder of when they were dating, returning to Williamsburg, Virginia, where Kevin and Megan spent their honeymoon, and seeing Yellowstone Park.

Next week, Kevin will check off roller skating.

And you get the feeling Kevin will eventually make it to Yellowstone proudly wearing his orange and black.

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