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Peters no longer calling shots

Venerable skip engaged in the fight of his life

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LET'S begin with the good news.

First, it's not like this would be the first time Vic Peters defied the odds. The Winnipeg skip is one of just five men at his position to win back-to-back Manitoba men's curling titles and last February, at the age of 55, defied his age and all conventional wisdom in being named a first-team all-star at the Manitoba men's curling championship.

Second, if anyone has some good karma coming his way, it is this devoted family man with an equally gentle touch in curling and in life -- and who would probably still win any poll asking Manitobans to name their favourite curler.

And finally, the earliest indications regarding Peters' condition -- while still very preliminary -- have mostly come back positive.

So, yeah, there's that.

But there's also this: Vic Peters has been diagnosed with cancer and is presently engaged in the fight of his life.

"It's the not knowing and waiting, waiting, waiting that is the hardest," Peters said Wednesday as he waited for yet another doctor's appointment at CancerCare Manitoba. "Obviously, lots of people go through it, but I can tell you it's not fun."

The troubles for Peters began innocuously -- as they so often do with cancer. Working as a greenskeeper this summer at Meadows at East St. Paul Golf Course, Peters noticed a lump one day under his left armpit.

It worried Peters immediately, in part because he had seen parts of this movie before. Thirty years ago, Peters was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer and -- as a precaution -- doctors removed the lymph nodes from under his right armpit, precisely the same location where the mass had now appeared under his left armpit.

An appointment with his doctor was booked and a subsequent biopsy showed the mass was cancerous. Surgery on Sept. 18 followed to remove the mass and his lymph nodes -- and since then it has been mostly a waiting game as Peters works his way through the sprawling infrastructure that is cancer care in this province.

Answers have been in short supply at precisely the time he's so desperate for some.

"I've had a CAT scan and a brain thing and those were good. They showed that nothing was moving," says Peters. "But now, in terms of the pathology report and what they found in there and what kind of (chemotherapy) cocktail they're going to fix up for me, that's all still up in the air."

With two jobs this time of year -- in addition to winterizing duties at Meadows, he's also the icemaker at Fort Garry Curling Club -- Peters is working when he can, but most of his duties have been taken over by son and curling teammate, Daley Peters.

"At this point, I still can't even lift my arm," Peters says. "And then now there's going to be the chemo and who knows how that will affect me?"

As for curling, it's all, of course, besides the point right now.

"I put the ice in at Fort Garry before the operation, but that's about it. I haven't thrown a rock," says Peters.

"It's the first fall I can recall where I haven't played in any bonspiels. It feels strange."

There were high hopes for the Peters foursome coming into this season. Peters and son Daley had a great run at last February's provincials, advancing all the way to the 3 vs. 4 page playoff game before losing in an extra end to Mike McEwen.

Daley Peters has carried on this fall without his father, skipping a revamped team that includes Brendan Taylor at third and Kyle Werenich at second.

They've played two events and picked up $3,500 for the effort, but no one on tour is pretending it's the same without the old man holding the broom.

"It's strange because Vic's just one of those guys who seems like he's always been out there playing," defending world champion Jeff Stoughton said Wednesday night. "He's just a great guy on and off the ice and one of those guys you want to play because he's always one of the top teams."

And the old man -- who's not that old, not really -- isn't pretending either.

"I had a procedure a little like this a long time ago," he says, "but this is obviously a lot more serious this time around...

"It's a scary thing," he says, "but I'm trying to deal with it. And I'm lucky, I've got a lot of friends."

More than he knows, I suspect, now that he's a friend in need.


The Peters file


Vic Peters is one of the winningest men's curlers in the history of Manitoba. Here's a snapshot:


Born: April 24, 1955 in Steinbach

Manitoba men's championships: 3 (1992, 1993, 1997)

Canadian men's championship: 1 (1992)

Canadian men's championship runner-up: 1 (1997)

Worlds bronze medal: 1992

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 3, 2011 C1

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