UVic soccer program rallies around player with brain cancer
VICTORIA -- Three months ago, Mackenzie Rigg started experiencing painful headaches. Doctors told him they were migraines, but when they persisted he pushed to get further tests.
A scan revealed a growth in his brain, and at the beginning of August he received the devastating diagnosis of stage-four brain cancer.
“I walked from where I was in the hospital to the emergency room and checked myself in,” says Rigg. “Every now and again I ask myself: Am I in a dream? Is this actually happening?”
Rigg underwent two surgeries to release the pressure in his brain before moving to Vancouver to start radiation.
“I think in a lot of ways, I could argue I’m unlucky because it’s such a freak thing that has happened to me,” he says. “But in a lot of ways I’m feeling pretty lucky right now.”
That feeling of luck is coming from the outpouring of support from a new campaign started by his University of Victoria Vikes family.
The men’s and women’s soccer teams are rallying around the varsity veteran by raising money for brain cancer research and committing to running 270 kilometres in three days at the end of November.
“Our main goal of all of this is for Mackenzie to feel loved and supported by his entire soccer community, his community in Kelowna, and his new community on the island,” says Trinity Kettyls, who helped organize the fundraiser and is a member of the UVic women’s team. “He’s got the Vikes here in Victoria really rooting for him.”
In just three days, the fundraiser has raised over $27,000 -- significantly more than the team’s original goal of $5,000.
“We at UVic are trying to do whatever we can to help him,” says men’s head coach Bruce Wilson. “At the end of the day we want to see Mackenzie back here. We miss him, and he’s going through a very tough time.”
Wilson says Rigg’s name comes up every practice and he will always be a part of the team.
Rigg says he is taking his treatment day by day, and is working to focus on the positives around him, which in the past couple of days he says has been easy to do.
While his battle against the disease is a tough one, his soccer family at UVic says it is committed to ensuring he doesn’t have to fight alone.