On Wednesday, Mary Gosek went in for what was possibly her last ever chemotherapy session.
“My numbers have come within the normal range,” she said. “It looks like they can take care of it again, and it will stay gone for another two years, or four years, or 10 years. Whenever it wants to go away is fine with me.”
Gosek, who is the wife of men’s ice hockey head coach Ed Gosek, is the Application Developer for Computer Technology Services at Oswego State, and was diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer in July 2012.
She went through her rounds of chemotherapy starting that summer and finished in December of that year.
“I was in chemo until the Plattsburgh game (Dec. 1) and I stayed out of chemo for almost two years,” Gosek said.
She was cancer free until January of this year, when doctors discovered that the cancer had returned and she had to go through chemotherapy again. Her session this past Wednesday was her eighth one of the year.
After her first diagnosis, Gosek and Diana Forbes, a colleague and life-long friend, decided to step up to raise awareness around the Oswego campus about Teal Tuesday.
Teal Tuesday is a nationally recognized concept created by the American Cancer Society for Ovarian Cancer. With September being ovarian cancer month, the object is to wear teal on every Tuesday of the month to raise awareness.
Gosek and Forbes decided to branch off of Teal Tuesday and create something that is specifically for Oswego State.
“We call it ‘Totally Teal’ and we do a walk on National Teal Day,” Gosek said.
This year, the walk was on Sept. 3.
With her husband being the men’s ice hockey head coach, Gosek decided to bring the hockey programs along for her journey.
Coach Gosek was more than happy to have his players participate in helping raise awareness for his wife. His players were on board with it right away.
Senior goalie Justin Gilbert, who has known Mary since before her diagnosis, has been one of her main supporters throughout his career at Oswego State.
“Anything to help Mary out is beneficial,” Gilbert said. “She’s been help
ing me out my entire career here, so the least we can do is raise awareness for her.”
Chris Raguseo, a junior defenseman, has also been a strong advocate for Teal Tuesday and notices the impact that it has had on campus.
“It has definitely grown each year I’ve been here,” Raguseo said. “It’s nice to see, especially because of who Mary is. She does everything for us, she loves us, and it’s great that we are able to do this for her.”
The support didn’t stop at the men’s team, however. Women’s head coach Diane Dillon and her team have also picked up on Teal Tuesday and feel it is their responsibility, especially as women, to raise awareness for other women not only on campus, but also in Oswego.
“When you look at it, it’s all Laker hockey,” Dillon said. “It was a scary thing to see what she was going through, it really gave all of us pause. We call and complain about the little things, it’s nothing compared to what she has to do on a daily basis, physically and mentally.”
Senior goalie Tori Trovato has known Mary for many years.
“I grew up playing hockey in Oswego and seeing ovarian cancer affect someone so close to you and our Laker family is a terrifying situation,” Trovato said. “Our team and Laker community is doing everything we possibly can to help support the awareness of ovarian cancer.”
When Mary was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, it came as a surprise to her family and it also occurred at a very significant time for the family, with one son already in college and a daughter who had just graduated high school.
“You’re certainly not ready for that,” Coach Gosek said, reflecting on his initial thoughts when hearing the news. “I wasn’t thinking something that drastic, like when the doctor comes in and tells you she’s fighting for her life. She went in for surgery and I thought it would be an hour or so, but the doctor came out six hours later and told us. From that point on, we supported her.”
Coach Gosek talked about how proud he was of his team for staying by her side throughout her treatment.
“From the get-go, our players were outstanding and were on board with whatever they had to do,” he said.
He even joked around saying “Unlike me, she’s always nice to them.”
But, the support for her has reached far beyond just the two hockey programs.
“They’ve all been supportive,” he said. “Both teams, the college community, co-workers, president (Deborah) Stanley, the athletics department, and they’re supportive because of the manner in which she goes about it.”
Coach Gosek talked about the emotional toll everything took on him, but did his best to keep a positive demeanor knowing how strong his wife was while battling.
“I think that’s what differs her as opposed to a lot of people,” he said. “Raising money for her is the least of all of it. Her whole thing is awareness, especially with all of the college girls on campus. She’s so positive, it’s so hard to be negative, or to feel sorry for her, or sorry for the situation because she’s so resilient.”
Ed spoke about the importance of women learning the symptoms of ovarian cancer and it being the main reason for increase in awareness.
“Her big thing is ‘the silent killer’ because simple everyday feelings that women experience, they don’t think it’s anything,” he said. “Things like loss of appetite and bloating ended up resulting in it being as far and long as it was.”
Mary had to show the same toughness she showed in her first battle as much as, if not more than the second time when the cancer came back.
“Life is tough,” Coach Gosek said. “She was right at that point where if you get over that hump time-wise, your odds are much better, everything increases positively.
Mary’s Cancer Antigen 125 (CA-125) number started to increase and the doctors decided to act quickly to get her back on chemotherapy treatment early in the year.
It is Mary’s resilience that has made an impact on the local, state and national level. Along with her impact here at Oswego State, she’s also reached out to Oswego Speedway and it has contributed in raising awareness that has reached out to major parts of Central New York.
Mary has also been in contact with a national organization called Hockey Coaches Care, which helps hockey coaches and their families deal in times of need. This inspired Mary to start her own non-profit organization locally to help women with treatments, called Peaceful Remedies.
While National Teal Day has passed and there are only a pair of Tuesdays left in the month of September, there are still many events taking place.
This Saturday is the 7th Annual Teal Ribbon Run for Ovarian Cancer Awareness in Minoa. The 5k begins at 10:30 a.m. with the 3k Family Fun Walk beginning 10 minutes after. Trovato said that members of the women’s hockey team would be participating in the 5k.
At the end of the month, there will be a table set up in the campus center for people interested in buying shirts, which will be $10 each ($15 for XXL and larger), and $5 of the proceeds will go directly to the American Cancer Society in regards to Ovarian Cancer research.
This will all lead up to Dec. 5 for “Teal The Rink,” when both men’s and women’s hockey will wear teal jerseys at home when they face off against Neumann University and SUNY Fredonia, respectively.
“It’ll be cool to wear a different style jersey while representing our school and a great cause at the same time,” Raguseo said. “Having 3,000 people cheer and see us, it will get a lot of people on board if they aren’t already.”
“I think it’s great,” Gilbert added. “Anything we can do to raise awareness, especially in an environment like that and that atmosphere will definitely make more people aware. Anytime we can do something like that to help the cause is going to be beneficial.”
“We have a wonderful opportunity here and for us to be able to do that, and to have a benefactor to step up and help with the jerseys, a lot of people are coming together to make this happen,” Dillon said. “I’m thrilled that we can be a part of it.”