Mike and Lea Stelter speak on spinal cancer treatments and what’s next for the Ben Stelter Foundation

Photo credit:CTV News
Aleena Aksenchuk
6 months ago
It is always heartwarming to see familiar faces during intermissions of Edmonton Oilers games, but it’s even better when it comes in the form of the Stelter family, who have reminded all of us that hockey is often more than just a game.
A little over a year ago, the hockey community grieved the loss of Ben Stelter after an honourable battle with cancer. Ben was one of the Oilers’ most passionate fans, whose heart was even bigger than his love for the game.
Since then, the family has revealed their battle with the vicious disease is far from over. Three months ago, Mike Stelter, Ben’s father, announced an MRI showed a tumour on his spine. In response, a GoFundMe page to rally in support of the Stelter family so that Mike could get a groundbreaking treatment in the United States.
Mike and Lea Stelter, along with Ashif Mawji, the director of the Ben Stelter Foundation, joined Gene Principe in Pennsylvania for the Oilers game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night where they spoke about his treatment, and what lies ahead.
“I’ve been good,” Mike shared when Principe asked him how he was doing during the first intermission.
“The first couple weeks were a little bit tough, stiff, and sore, but the last couple weeks have been good.”
Since Mike Stelter’s diagnosis, the family has been travelling to the United States for a special kind of treatment directed specifically for cancers on the spine and brain called Proton Therapy. Mike is now at the half way point of his eight week treatment program that he does every Monday through Friday, as Principe says it truly is a full time job in order for Mike to feel better.
“He has Ben in his corner, so we all know he’s going to be just as tough as Benny,” Lea Stelter said with a smile on her face.
The unique form of treatment is not available in Canada, but with the help of the Ben Stelter Foundation, the GoFundMe page, and Oilers captain Connor McDavid the family hopes to be able to bring one to Canada, more specifically to Edmonton.
“[McDavid] wants to help us bring it to Edmonton, and help us make sure that’s something we can be successful with,” Mike Stelter said, after the family and McDavid himself took a tour of a facility that has access to the treatment while the Oilers were playing in Nashville, TN.
On Thursday, Mike shared a halfway point update to the GoFundMe page, expressing gratitude for the outpouring of love and support, and providing insight to supporters into his progress.
“Weeks one and two of treatment were a little hard as the inflammation caused quite a bit more pain, but things have settled down now, and I’m feeling much better,” he writes.
“There haven’t been any other negative side effects other than some extra tiredness from the Proton Therapy which is nice. I do have some rough side effects and a lot of muscle weakness from the medication I’m on but it will start to get better once I’m able to start reducing it to get off of it.”
The Stelter family entered the spotlight in the hockey world when Ben was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a brain cancer, two months shy of his fifth birthday. He became a rallying point and emblem of hope for the Edmonton Oilers and the Oilers market during the 2021-22 season, receiving recognition from multiple teams across the league including, the Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Cancuks. Since Ben’s passing, the family has continued his legacy through the Ben Stelter Foundation, teaming up with McDavid and the Oilers to make it possible.
The fund, which has now amassed over $1 million, revolves around four primary objectives — firstly, being able to create special experiences for kids facing the vicious disease. The second is working to reduce the financial burden for families who require advanced medical equipment at home their children. The third is funding research to find better treatments and possible cures for glioblastoma and other forms of paediatric cancers. And finally, there are investments into creative and innovative projects that help with cancer treatments and potential cures.
Through it all, McDavid has stood by the Stelter family’s side. Since first meeting Ben back in September of 2021, he has continued ensuring the well-being of both the family and the foundation.
“I can never say enough good things about Connor and how amazing he is as a human, and how amazing he’s been to our family,” Lea Stelter expressed. “We love him for so many reasons.”

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