Emma Shimizu is a Nipissing University student and a coach for the North Bay Ice Boltz. At just 19 years old, she has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Ruby Pilatzke is her best friend and a fellow coach. A Nipissing student herself, Pilatzke says the two became friends quickly after meeting at an orientation event.
“She was like our other roommate. She spent so much time in our room. I’ve played hockey for a long time, and Emma has played hockey her whole life, playing Jr. A, and coaching summer teams. Her and I were talking and we wanted to get involved in the community somehow, and that’s what we came up with.”
Pilatzke says the Ice Boltz took the two on with open arms, and everyone was helpful.
Pilatzke says Shimizu wasn’t feeling really well, and throwing up lots and wasn’t able to sleep. Not knowing if it was stress related, she went to emerge a few times to try and figure out what was going on.
“Emma advocated for herself and wanted more tests done. They found a mass on her lungs and found out it was cancerous and we really weren’t expecting to hear a stage 4 diagnosis. But they ran more tests and unfortunately it had already spread.”
Pilatzke says there’s a financial burden when it comes to cancer treatments, and a fundraiser has been created to help Emma and her family, adding “any little bit that we can raise will definitely go a long way.”
“We teamed up with a company out of Ottawa called Level one gear. We’ve designed three t-shirts. One is focused on hockey because Emma loves her hockey. One has Nipissing athletics on it because Emma played on the Ringuette team and the third one is a generic Emma Strong. ”
Pilatzke says when you purchase a shirt, more than 50% of it goes to Emma and her family.
To purchase a t-shirt, you can visit https://level1customgear.ca/collections/emma-strong-fundraiser
In a social media post, the Nipissing University Student Union shares that Emma is majoring in Social Welfare and Social Development, and had just completed her first year of university when she received the diagnosis. “Emma was a busy student-athlete who played on the Lakers Ringette team, was part of Best Buddies NUSU/CSC Chapter, and coached girls hockey in the community for the NBGHA. Understandably, this Laker is taking a hiatus from university to focus on fighting for her life. Emma and her family need our support!”