Chris' Story

Chris Sanderson is considered by many to be the greatest field lacrosse goalie that Canada has ever produced. After a successful career at the University of Virginia, Sanderson joined the Canadian National Team in 1998. This team waged an epic battle with the US in the finals that year, overcoming an 11-goal deficit but ultimately losing in overtime. Sanderson, however, was selected to the All World Team and voted the Best Goaltender of the Tournament.

Sanderson represented Canada again in 2002, helping his native country earn a silver medal. Four years later, when he returned for his third World Games in 2006, Sanderson led the Canadians to their historic victory over the US, earning the gold metal and ending the Americans’ 28-year winning streak. This 2006 tournament also cemented Sanderson’s place in history as the first goalie to earn All World designation twice.

With all this success, it is no wonder that Canada wants Sanderson between the pipes again as they head to Manchester, England to compete in the 2010 Lacrosse World Championships this July. This time, however, things are a bit more complicated.

On December 9th, 2008, Sanderson was diagnosed with a grade IV malignant brain tumor called Glioblastoma Multiforme. This is considered to be the most aggressive form of brain cancer, almost always terminal, with an average survival duration of 9 to 12 months.

Sanderson has spent the past year following an extensive treatment protocol. This includes what is known as the "standard of care" of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. On top of this, Sanderson is being treated with a newly approved drug called Avastin, an intense regimen of nutritional supplements, and a promising experimental medication he receives at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.

While Sanderson's prognosis remains poor, so far, he is doing very well. His level of functioning is outstanding with only minor speech deficits from brain surgery and some symptoms primarily due to the side effects of treatment. Remarkably, Sanderson's last MRI (a brain imaging scan that is done every 8 weeks) on March 15th, found no evidence of disease, so it seems his aggressive treatment approach is working and keeping tumor cells at bay for now.

For Sanderson, each day is a blessing. A year ago, playing in the 2010 World Championships was an impossibility. Today, it is a goal and a great motivation for him to keep fighting. For the rest of us, it is an inspriational symbol of perseverance and determination in the face of cancer.