Cancer survivor and local hockey player continues to inspire

TAMPA — Weston Hermann was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was seven years old. His fight against the disease is simply remarkable. He has undergone two brain surgeries and the time spent in chemotherapy treatments amounts to almost two and a half years. Weston, now 15, is a four-time brain cancer survivor.

A lifelong Tampa Bay Lightning fan, Weston had the opportunity to practice with the team and tour the locker rooms. He was also able to drop the ceremonial first puck before the Bolts’ game against Anaheim on April 14.

“Words can’t describe it, so much fun,” beamed Weston. “With everyone on their feet, just to cheer, the whole community helping me through it all. Which thankfully is in remission now, so it’s been fine.”

Weston doesn’t let cancer affect his hockey game. He led all freshmen in goal while skating for the Manatee Admirals in the Lightning High School Hockey League.

“You just have to stay determined. Focus on a goal. Go towards that goal,” Hermann said. “Being able to keep playing, going through it all. The fact that I was still on the ice, going through it. Makes me proud that I persevered and helps me where I am today.”

Weston’s father, Jared, admits it can be nerve-wracking watching his son play a sport like hockey while battling brain cancer. But he says he just wants to see Weston do what he loves.

“It’s really helped him get through those tough times and focus on something other than chemo and surgeries, and really get out on the ice,” Jared said. “It’s a time when all there is to do is play hockey and have fun.”

Besides the Lightning organization, Weston had the support of Tampa Bay-area celebrities like WWE Superstar John Cena and Basketball Hall of Famer Dick Vitale, a fellow cancer survivor.

“[Dick Vitale has been] reaching out every week, wondering how I’m doing, going through chemo and everything. To see him having to go through what he had to go through after helping everyone, it’s great to see him ring the bell.

The Hermanns have partnered with Heroes 4 Causes and the American Cancer Society to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer, and they’ve done it in a unique way. They have developed an inspirational and action-packed comic called “Center Ice”. The main character plays center and wears #22 on his sweater, just like Weston.

“I feel like it can encourage others to go through what they’re going through,” Weston said. “Obviously I don’t have the worst. There are definitely worse things out there. Hopefully they can stay resolute and get through this.”

“We’re just trying to help others raise awareness because only 4% of all federal funds go to pediatric cancer,” Jared added. “We really need new therapies specifically designed for children.”

Weston says he doesn’t like to brag about his story, but he’s earned the right to brag a little because it will help others fight – a lot.

“So I guess if my story inspires others, I’d like to encourage that.”

Weston has been stable for about six months. His only current health issue is hockey related. He broke his ankle and the doctor told him he could be out of action for up to six months. Weston joked that it’s going to be more like two months. Given his track record for beating the odds, it’s not wise to bet against him.

Catherine J. Martinez