ENFIELD - A hockey family in the battle of their lives. Tom and Liz Terhune have been battling cancer at the same time for just over a year. while trying to raise three children.
The Terhune's were living happy and healthy lives. They had two children, Tommy, now 15, and Abby, 11. They were surprised to learn they were to have a third child at almost 40-years-old. Benjamin was born on November 11, 2018, perfectly healthy. Just weeks after they got unexpected news that changed their lives forever.
"That’s when they found a lump and the whole thing just started from there," said Tom Terhune.
Stage three breast cancer is the diagnosis Liz Terhune received at an appointment meant to be a follow up after giving birth.
"Benjamin was sent to save mommy’s life because had I not just had the baby I may not have caught the cancer as soon as we did," said Liz.
Her grandmothers and mother were both diagnosed in their 60s and 70’s. She’d never thought it would happen to her at age 40. Especially just two months after giving birth.
"When you’re going through that sort of experience, it’s one day at a time. Just worry about getting through today and tomorrow we’ll face when we get there," said Liz.
Tomorrow brought it’s good and bad days. Multiple doctors’ appointments a week, raising three children and working full time. The most difficult of days coming a year after her diagnosis. Liz was just about to finish her chemotherapy when her husband Tom discovered two golf ball size lumps on his neck.
"Who would ever think that it would be cancer twice," said Tom.
It was stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The cancer has spread to multiple parts of his body including his bone marrow. He began chemotherapy a week before Benjamin’s first birthday.
"Knowing what I had gone through and knowing now that my husband has to go through. I just wish I could take that away from him," said Liz.
"With school the baby and them both going through chemo, it was devastating for me," said Abby Terhune.
One of the hardest parts for the hockey family was having to step away from the game. Tom played goalie his whole life. He taught his son the way of the game and now watches him tend the crease at Enfield High School. Even long after his son moved up from squits to pewees and beyond, Tom stayed back to coach the next wave of youngsters.
"Making the announcement to the team and then sitting in the locker room. That little tiny locker room at ETR with 17 kids and 30-something parents. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house," said Tom.
Hockey families and players the Terhune’s have grown with over the years from early morning practices to tournaments. The comradery and now their generosity are simply unmatched.
"What those families have done for us is unbelievable," said Tom. "Nobody wants recognition. Nobody wants anything. They just want you to know that they are there for you.
On December 12, the Enfield Hockey Association held their annual Holiday Skate and Coaches game. This year it was in honor of Tom.
"We ran out of almost everything," said Heather Merrill. "So many people showed up when they realized it was for Tom."
The idea was a complete surprise to Tom who got the ok from the doctors to play.
"They did a couple of breakaways so he can really shine," said Merrill. "His son got to ref the game which made it that much more spectacular for him."
The EHA amongst other hockey families, friends, and even Abby’s Dance studio have pitched in to help.
"We would have probably lost the house if it hadn’t been for the generosity," said Liz.
Generosity they say has carried them through some of the darkest days. Along with grit, humility and an unwillingness to quit that a hockey family knows all too well.
"We’re gonna get better. We are the Terhune’s. We will," said Abby.
Liz’s recent tests have come back cancer free! She still has a year of tests to go through before the fight is over. Tom's Oncologist believes his cancer is curable. Tom’s biggest regret is not getting checked sooner.
The family is still in great need as their medical bills continue to mount. You can donate to their GoFundMe here.