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Somerby’s Small Gesture Greatly Touched a Fan Battling Cancer

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Doyle Somerby poses with a pink stick he used during the month of October. Members of the 2018-19 Cleveland Monsters signed the stick before it was given away to a fan battling cancer.
Photo Credit: Doyle Somerby

In October, Cleveland Monsters defenseman, Doyle Somerby joined the American Cancer Society’s “Real Men Wear Pink Campaign”.

“My friend needed help with a new job for the American Cancer Society in Chicago. She reached out and asked if I could do it since I have a couple of followers on Instagram.” - Doyle Somerby (Cleveland Monsters defenceman)

For the month of October, Somerby wore something pink to help raise breast cancer awareness. As well as, raise funds for the American Cancer Society. It seemed like such a small thing for Somerby to use his influence in the greater Cleveland area to promote such a great cause. Little did he know this small gesture to help a friend would touch the lives of so many people. Especially, Cleveland Monsters’ fan Roberta Pennington.

In June of 2011, Pennington was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy, did radiation, and was put on Tamoxifen. Things were looking up as she headed down the path of recovery.

However, this was not the end of her battle with cancer. On July 14, 2017, the doctors found what they thought was a Stage 1 tumor. Upon further research, the cancer was much worse than they initially thought. An MRI showed the tumor was attached to Pennington’s muscle wall. It was determined the tumor was Stage 3 cancer. Pennington would have to begin Chemo.

This news threw her for a loop. She was not expecting such a heavy diagnosis and knew her life was going to drastically change. Yet, she knew her role in life would not.

“I was no longer a cancer survivor. It came back with a vengeance. BUT I was still a wife, a mom, a daughter, an aunt, sister in law, friend , and of course a hockey fan.” – Roberta Pennington

As a mom, it is tough dealing with cancer while simultaneously being there for your children. Yet, Pennington has made it a priority to stay involved in her daughters lives. If she can’t be at one of their events, Pennington makes sure someone is able to film it or video chat her during the event.

Pennington is also one tough hockey fan. Even surgery can’t stop her from seeing the Monsters play. Seriously. This is not a joke. She is the definition of “Hockey Tough”.

Seven days after her first surgery, Pennington made sure to attend the Cleveland Monsters vs Iowa Wild game at Quicken Loans Arena.

“There was a hockey game on December 18th. You bet your butt I didn’t miss it. Didn’t stay long but I was there.” – Roberta Pennington

The game was a nice reprieve from her battle. Unfortunately, reality reared it’s ugly head when they discovered the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. They were able to successfully remove four of the six cancerous lymph nodes but Pennington would have to undergo radiation.

For five weeks, she underwent radiation two times a day. Pennington had a few months off of treatments before having to go under the knife one more time. On August 21st, 2018, Pennington had a double mastectomy with reconstruction.

Through all of this Pennington depended upon many people to help her fight this battle with cancer. Her support system is full of many people who she loves dearly.

“Oh, what a bunch of wonderful people I have in my life. My husband, Nate, my daughters, Caitlyn and Alexis, my parents, mother in law, father in law, so many family members, and my friends new (hockey family) and old (my oldest friend of 30 years)” – Roberta Pennington

Along the way she picked up a new addition to her support system, Doyle Somerby. The pair met at the MHC “Meet the Team” event in October when another fan introduced them. After chatting with Pennington for a bit, Somerby signed her shirt and posted a lovely message to her on his Instagram story.

Photo Credit: Doyle Somerby

As the month of October came to a close, Somerby decided to gift the pink stick he had been using during the first part of the season to someone battling cancer. The person on the receiving end of this seemingly small gesture? Roberta Pennington. To say she was absolutely floored is an understatement.

“I really don’t know how to describe getting the stick. It was an amazing experience from an amazing person.” – Roberta Pennington

Roberta Pennington and her family pose with Doyle Somerby after receiving the Cleveland Monsters team signed stick.
Photo Credit: Roberta Pennington

In the end, Somerby raised $11,636 for the American Cancer Society and found a new friend in Pennington. It just goes to show that the smallest of deeds can turn out to mean the world to someone else.

“While I know Doyle is a hockey player, I really look at him like a friend. A friend who happens to be on my favorite hockey team.” – Roberta Pennington

You can follow Pennington’s battle with cancer at “Roberta’s Journey” on Facebook.