VANCOUVER — Shea Weber was 15 years old when his mom’s headaches started.
Infrequent at first, they soon became the kind that makes you want to close all the blinds and shut out the rest of the world.
Tests were ordered and the news wasn’t good. An MRI revealed a large tumour on her brain. Surgery soon followed along with countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, all in an attempt to rid her head of the deadly cancer.
It didn’t take long after her last round of treatments before the pain subsided and life returned to normal for Tracy Weber, who dedicated her every waking day to her second chance at life. She never once failed to appreciate the opportunity to see her two boys grow into young men.
“She was a strong woman who fought hard and was always there for us,” said the Nashville Predators defenceman.
The Predators are facing the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference semifinal. Game 1 was played in Vancouver on Thursday night. (Note: the result was unavailable by The Telegram’s press deadline)
“Whether it was driving us to hockey practice at six in the morning when dad was working, or up in the stands cheering us on in freezing cold arenas, she was an inspiration and instrumental in getting us to believe we could play hockey and making sure we just love what we do,” he said.
Tracy Weber watched proudly as the Predators selected her eldest child in the second round of the 2003 National Hockey League draft and was front and centre one year later when Shea lifted the Memorial Cup over his head as a member of the Kelowna Rockets.
Sadly, not long after the six-foot-three, 234-pound defenceman’s first full season with Nashville in 2006-07, the headaches returned.
Further tests revealed the cancer had spread to an inoperable place on her brain and chemo was no longer an option.
Non-stop and violent seizures that grew progressively worse left doctors with little choice but to place the 47-year-old into an induced coma about nine months ago.
Tracy Weber died on Aug. 11, with her husband and two sons by her side.
“The possibility was there for such a long time that Shea quickly realized that you can’t take anything for granted,” said James Weber, the patriarch of the family.
“I think that’s to what you can attribute a lot of his success. He realized at a young age that you might as well do the best you can every day of your life and get the most out of every day as you can because it can end at any time.”
Weber, 25, has won everything there is to win on the international stage, taking home gold at the Olympics, world championship and world junior tourney. He’s a two-time NHL all-star and earlier this week was named as a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the league’s best defenceman.
In the final year of a three-year, $13.5-million US contract, Weber finished tied for third in team scoring this season with 16 goals and 32 assists.
His physical play and strong two-way game are big reasons Nashville defeated Anaheim in six games to advance to the post-season’s second round for the first time in the franchise’s 13-year history.
“To me he’s just solid,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “When you talk about a solid player, a solid person, a pro — he’s just someone who leads by his actions.”
Weber was named an all-star last February in Vancouver, when Canada defeated the U.S. for gold on the final day of the 2010 Winter Games.
The joy he received from being able to share the experience with his mom outweighed any medal.
“I was really excited and grateful to have her still be here and for her to be part of the Olympics is something I’ll forever cherish,” said Weber.
“I know she’s still watching from up above cheering me on and getting mad at me when I make mistake.”