Hockey community comes together after player diagnosed with illness

MARQUETTE — A young hockey star in the U.P. has recently been diagnosed with a severe illness. ABC 10’s Melanie Palmer brings us the story of Caleb Bell and his fight to stay strong.

Caleb Bell is a 12-year old boy who has a passion for hockey and has been pursuing this passion for most of his life. Caleb recently had a stubborn cough that wouldn’t go away and when brought to the doctor, Caleb’s family heard some troubling news.

“The cough just kept getting worse and eventually we thought it was pneumonia and had him on antibiotics for a few days, but he wasn’t really getting better so we called the doctor and got a chest x-ray. We found that the coughing was actually from a 5-inch mass on his chest that was compressing his airway and his major vessels,” said Caleb’s Mom, Nichole Neumann.

The mass was identified as lymphoma; in this case, a lymph node started growing out of control and quickly started to compress things that it shouldn’t. Caleb needs to receive chemotherapy once a week, this of which is done at the DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. Driving the seven and a half hours just one way, every single week, can take a toll on Caleb.

“The chemotherapy, I’m a nurse and I didn’t realize how brutal it actually is, there is a lot of side effects. It seems like we get one side effect under control and then there’s a another one, basically he has a few days off and then we hit it again so it seems like a constant struggle. Then you are shoving him in the car and driving seven to eight hours, and we all know when we’re not feeling well that it’s not an easy thing to do,” said Neumann.

Caleb is currently taking a break from the sixth grade while receiving treatment. His Mom tries to work as much as possible when not traveling on the road. A You Caring page was created by a fellow Nurse to help the family out.

“I typically work full-time and I’m going to be lucky if I can get 2 to 3 days in a week and then some weeks I won’t be able to work at all. I don’t live too large but it is kind of hard if you don’t work your normal schedule. It’ll definitely help with gas, stay, and food. He is very hungry right now because he is on some steroids,” said Neumann.

After hearing Caleb’s story, the Escanaba Area Junior Hockey Association wanted to help. An open skate fundraiser is being held at the Wells Sports Complex in Escanaba on Friday, December 23rd from 6 to 8:30 p.m. All proceeds will be given to Caleb’s family for medical expenses.

“His team has been phenomenal as the whole community has as far as helping us with support, I mean work, the community, Escanaba, I don’t even know anyone from Escanaba. They just see a hockey player in trouble and they want to help and that is just amazing to me,” said Neumann.

Caleb’s Mom mentioned she is very proud of Caleb for staying strong in the process and asking everyone to keep fighting for him. If you would like to donate to Caleb’s family, you can donate by clicking here.