Uhrich loses locks for good cause

Matthew Gourlie
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Warriors winger donates hair in honour of his mother who survived cancer

Plenty of mothers are happy when their sons decide to cut their hair short.

Josh Uhrich’s radical haircut before Friday's Moose Jaw Warriors home game had a much deeper significance for his mother Tracey Uhrich.

The 17-year-old Warriors right winger hadn’t cut his hair in 17 months before he cut it all off and donated it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program that donates wigs made from real hair to cancer patients through the Canadian Cancer Society.

Tracey is a cancer survivor. She had a tumour in her breast removed in 1999.

“I'm very proud of him. This is an initiative he took all on his own,” said Tracey Uhrich who has been cancer-free since 2000.

Local hair dresser Shana Osborne cut Uhrich's hair on the Warriors bench before the game. He said he felt three pounds lighter and that the decision to chop his hair off was an easy one.

“I like having long hair. It was starting to get a bit long last year when we had the (Stick It To Cancer) game and I first thought about it then,” said Josh Uhrich who is from Rosetown. “I thought it would be kind of cool to do something for cancer.”

Josh doesn't have any memories of his mom's cancer fight, but it's pretty easy to start thinking about what could have been.

"It was a tough time I’m sure, but we’re extremely grateful that everything is good now," he said. "We’ve been extremely blessed. Everything I’ve done in my life so far and have been able to do is because doctors ... were able to treat it quickly."

In 1996 two things happened that changed Tracey’s life: she became pregnant with Josh, her first child, and she found a lump in her breast.

“I actually got the lump when I was pregnant with Josh. I had it for over three years before they took it out,” said Tracey who has a son Brayden, 16, who is a Medicine Hat Tigers prospect and a younger daughter Brienne. "I had surgery, I didn't have to go through any radiation or chemotherapy or anything. I was fortunate."

Tracey was only 25 when she had Josh. Initially doctors thought the lump was benign.

“They kept telling me I was too young, I wasn't in the right age group and that it must have been related to my pregnancy," she recalled. "It had been there for so long that I couldn't tell if any changes had occurred in it.”

After having Brayden she had a biopsy and doctors decided surgery was needed.

"When I found out that I did have breast cancer, it was a pathologist from St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon who told me that I was actually never, ever in the clear," said Tracey. "At that time it was crazy around our household. We had two little boys when I had just been diagnosed. It was quite a scary time visiting doctors. Fortunately I was lucky."

Josh was about to turn four and Brayden was six months old when Tracey got her cancer diagnosis.

“I'm sure glad that they didn't realize the trauma and the stress that I was going through," she said of her two boys. “I am a worrier to begin with. You're worrying about being pregnant. You're worrying about having this lump. You're worrying about these kids growing up. Then to find out it was actually cancer, it was horrible.”

While Josh wasn’t old enough to remember that time, he admits to thinking about it in retrospect.

“Obviously cancer is a major thing in our society and it affects a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “I always worry for my mom. She’s so important to me and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for me. I just want her to be healthy and live her life.”

The Uhrichs had their third child little more than a year after her surgery. In the last decade life has returned to normal.

“We didn't talk about it a lot when they were young. We tried to carry on. It was something that happened and we've gone on with our lives. It wasn't until they got older that they stopped and thought 'wow, that did happen to mom,'" said Tracey.

“(Josh) wrote this really nice essay last year on one of his favourite people of all time — I think that's what it was — and he wrote about me. In this paper he wrote, he wrote how courageous I was and all of these things that I never realized that he thought. I tried to hide all those things and tried to carry on.”



Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society.Tracey, Hospital in Saskatoon

Geographic location: Rosetown, St. Paul

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