The Interview with Hockey Legend Hayley Wickenheiser

Humanitarian, Hockey Elite, Soon to be Doctor, Helping CONQUER-COVID-19

Some of Hayley Wickenheiser's Accomplishment:

  • Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (2019)

  • Won Seven World Gold Championships

  • Four Olympic Gold Medals (2002, 2006,2010,2014)

  • One Silver Medal (1998)

  • Most Assists, Points and Goals for the Canadian Women's National Team

  • Sports Illustrated named her one of the Top 25 Toughest Athletes in the World

  • Named Twice Power 50 in Sports

  • Awarded the Order of Canada (2014)

  • Masters in Kinesiology

  • Currently in her 3rd year of Medical School at the University of Calgary

  • Inspiration and Founder of CONQUER COVID-19 campaign

  • Founder of Wick Festival (mentoring young athletes from all around the world)

  • Played and coaches at NHL Development Camps with the Philidelphia Flyers, The Edmonton Oiler and currently the Toronto Maple Leafs

  • She is studying to be a Medical Doctor (Class of 2020)

Hayley's Tedx Talk- Make a New Status Quo "Buck It":

Twitter: Hayley Wickenheiser@wick_22

Instagram: hchickwick

On a Personal Note:

Hayley is one of my favourite people in the world. If you see the interview you will see why. She is so humble about her extraordinary achievements and she has a heart bigger than all her gold medals combined.  We have similar interests and share the same hockey hero Wayne Gretzky. I grew up in a small rural community and watched the Edmonton Oilers win 5 Stanley Cups, that is something that stays with you.

While many may know her for her tremendous hockey achievements, her off ice contributions to help children are no less impressive. She also has a real heart to serve as a physician and contribute to the well being of people. She truly represents the best in a person and so much of that is her mindset along with the talents she's been gifted with. Being with her just reminds you that we all can be better and we should not let fear interfere with our dreams and our ability to make meaningful contributions.

 

Lalit Chawla

The Interview

This interview was dictated to close as possible to the actual conversation, however, there may be errors in the dictated process. Capturing the intentions and emotions through words to reflect the conversation can be incomplete).

In this sit-down interview, we cover a few keys areas:

 

  • How Hayley handles pressure and uses it to her advantage

  • How she dealt with losing 

  • The one piece of advice that changed the way she thought about herself

  • Here views on hockey and medicine

  • What her experience has been as a medical student

  • How she handles feedback in her medical training

  • How she uses humour to help her on and off the ice

  • Why she stood at the back of the lecture hall in medical school

  • Balancing being a Training Coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Medical residency

  • Her experience with Breast Cancer and how that influences her as a young doctor

This interview was conducted before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit North America

Lalit: Hayley, it's great to see you again.

Hayley: Thanks for having me.

Lalit:

Welcome to the show. You've had an Epic career. So many successes, I wouldn't even know where to begin. Congratulations, last year you were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Hayley:

So yeah, that was pretty cool.

Lalit:

That was really good! Now I want to start off. A few years ago, I had the great fortune to be speaking with Cassie Campbell at a conference, and afterwards, we were sitting at the dinner table with a few other folks, including my daughter. I was teaching her (Cassie) some magic because her daughter was really into magic at the time. I remember one thing she said that evening was that in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, when Team Canada-when you all brought home the Silver Medal, there was so much disappointment. And you know, it was incredible, a Silver Medal! But you know, Canada was disappointed. I know the hockey players were disappointed. Her dad picked her up at the airport and was driving her home, the mood was very somber. And because of what happened with the national newspaper, they had a picture of Cassie and it said 'Women's Hockey, Devastating Loss' or something to that effect.

 

Hayley: Yeah right.

Lalit:

Now Cassie said, "you know, this is really great news because women's hockey is front-page news and so this is fantastic!" So she was able to see that- reframe a negative into a positive and I know you've had throughout your entire life- that is obstacles. I was wondering how do you deal with it? Could you speak to that? Do you have a particular example you want to share?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Hayley:

Yeah, well I guess , my perspective of that loss was definitely not a negative to a positive. I actually took me a long time to get over that loss. I felt we let the country down, we let ourselves down, our families down. We only went to Nagano for one medal, which was the gold medal. So, that one was a long time before I got over it. But I think the key, like even in hockey in general, for example; You know, you look at a season like the NHL season, right now, and in the NHL there's 82 games. Well, if you lived and died by every game, you won or lost- you'd be a nervous wreck because you know, you win, you lose, it's such a competitive league. So, I think it was Daryl Sutter who was coaching LA years ago, and I remember him saying "it's a roller coaster and you got to get off the roller coaster." And so one of the things that I try to do with most everything I can in my life is just try to stay even keel. So if things are going great, they're never that great. If things are going terrible they're never that terrible. You know, it's somewhere in the middle. I think energetically- where I like to be more on the high side than the low side. But I find that staying even keel really helps, especially now in medicine and in all the other things I'm doing-working with the Leafs because if you get caught up in these emotional highs and lows, it can really be exhausting and it's kind of counterproductive.

Lalit:

Well, how do you handle pressure? Because you because you've been in many pressure situations, like in Vancouver, "they've said the weight of the nation is on you"

Hayley:

Well, you know, pressure is a funny thing. So pressure I think has to come and it has to go. No human can sustain being in the pressure cooker 24 hours a day. So we know this in medicine, there's pressure- highs and lows and you know, it has to come and it has to go.

So in Vancouver for example, we were under pressure because we were trying to win - what was it, third gold medal in a row in Canada and a home game. That is very rare for any athlete to go through. So the media was saying, "well, you know, it's going to be a lot of pressure the weight of the nation on top of you guys. How are you guys going to handle that?"

And we decided as a group and as a team to say, 'no, no, no, it's not the weight of the nation pushing us down.

It's the weight of the nation has a seventh man on the ice pushing us from behind. That pressure would be a privilege, because we were competing in our home country. We're going for a third gold medal in a row. There was nothing bad about anything that we were doing. Just a lot of people expected us to win again. And what was wrong with that? So, the way that you see pressure, I think, is that you can change it from a burden to a privilege. And so people wouldn't put you in high-stress positions- in in medical school or business, for example, if they didn't think you had the tools to get the job done. So what a great place to be. What a privilege it is. And I think about that when I'm with patients, you know, this is a lot of pressure because I feel like I still don't really know what I'm doing, but man, what an opportunity and someone is trusting their life with you. And that is a privilege to have.

 


 

Lalit:

I love that, pressure is a privilege. You know, the one thing which you have said before, Coach Kozak he said something wonderful. I was wondering if you could repeat it.

Hayley:

Yeah. So, after the 1998 loss Wally Kozak, a longtime coach of mine, brilliant man; he was my coach, on my club team and he gave me a piece of paper and it said, a gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it."

 

And so I still have that piece of paper. I folded it up and I've had it my stall for a long time. But I think at that time I was wrapped up into everything that I was as a person was who I was as a hockey player. So if we were winning, things are going good, then you know, it was great. If we were losing then I was personally a failure. Who I was as a person wasn't enough. I couldn't separate the two. And now I have the wisdom and the experience to look back and say 'okay, that, that's not actually how it is' but at that time I didn't really have that insight. So, think a lot of people get wrapped up in that. We're so not what we do. We have so many hats that we wear-moms and dads, doctors and all sorts of things. And so I think that's a freeing thing to give yourself that.
 

Lalit:

You know, you've probably had people say, "Haley, you know what? You're in medicine and hockey. They're so different. People may say that, but in my experience playing sports and coaching, I really think there's so many similarities. What, are your thoughts on that?

Hayley:

They are exactly the same? I mean they're different in the sense that obviously in sport,your body is your temple and everything that do revolves around the performance of your body. In medicine, you're actually trying to help people get their bodies back to a steady state of normal or perform. But what I find is, especially in the emerge (ER) and why the emerge (Emergency Room) appeals to me is that they're the same. You're in a team, you have things happen. You have to make quick decisions. You don't get a second chance. A lot of times everybody has an ego that has to be managed. And, oh boy do I see that.

 

And you know, the more I get into this medicine thing, it's not very different than sports that way. And at the end of the day, you're all striving for one goal ultimately, which is to help the person that you're serving in that moment. And that's the same thing on the ice. You're trying to win a hockey game. So I find a lot of the things that I did in hockey, I take with me every time I'm in the emerge or every time I'm in the hospital working with people. I draw on them every single day. And I just think sports has prepared me so well for a life in medicine.

 

Lalit:

Now, as a coach you give feedback and as a hockey player you've had a lot of feedback. Do you find that it's different in medicine because you're receiving feedback? Is it different?

Hayley:

Well, I find the students around me, have a hard time with feedback and I find that I don't because every day I played hockey, I was an athlete, I was told I wasn't good enough. I was doing something wrong. I needed to be better or I was good at this. Every day you're getting evaluated and feedback. I'm used to being under that pressure cooker every day of your performance being evaluated. So to me like to walk into a new rotation and you know, worry about what my preceptor is going to say. Yeah, you're going to tell me some things I do well and some things I don't, but I'd like to know the things that I don't do well first because I'd like to get better. I really don't care too much if you're going to tell me positive things because you know I think I know what I'm going to do well and that's not going to help me as much as at this stage in my training as the things that I know I need to improve on.

Hayley:

So I think what has to be a balance though is the way that that feedback is delivered. And you know, it's like old school hockey where you see them yell and scream and harp on players. That doesn't work in today's world. You know, you've got to treat everyone with respect and have open communication and be fair in your judgment of things. And so when get evaluated, from someone who I think exhibit those behaviours, then if the feedback is good, bad or otherwise, I take it. And I think that being in hockey has prepared me for that because I've been given feedback and report cards my whole life.

 

Lalit:

So why do some people not take feedback well, or why do they take it so personally and why do you not?

Hayley:

Well, I guess I think maybe I'm speaking like I'm old now, but in med school. There's a lot of 20 something-year-olds that I'm in school with. That's the reality. And I think in this generation we have a lot of times in our generation where we don't want to fail. But actually I think failure is incredibly important. It is what propels you to the next great thing you're going to do. And if we look at failure as a negative, then we're missing an opportunity to just take it and improve it. You know, I can go into it....I was in my last emerge rotation and one of the docs said, "you know, I think you've got a good structure here, but I'd like you to have more details in your history.

Hayley:

And lay it out a bit better." And I was like, fantastic. Like, thank you for telling me.

And I think that some people would see that as, 'Oh, you think that I'm bad that I'm a bad person or I'm bad at what I'm doing.' Well, no, you're just trying to help me get better. And I'm so, I don't mind when I get, you know, as they say, ‘pimp to it.’ I don't mind when somebody's like... I appreciate those people that want to pimp me hard because I think that they actually believe that I might have some potential or they wouldn't ask me these questions. So, failure, we shouldn't shy away from, we should embrace it. And I think a lot of younger people that I see in medicine, they don't want to go there, but it's not a reflection of who you are as a person. It's what you're learning.

 

Lalit:

I agree. Yeah. When I was younger, when you'd have a lot of the old school and they're just sometimes very nasty. You really have to take with a grain of salt. So have you ever had that experience?

Hayley:

I have and I suppose that at my age with my life experience, I have a little bit of an easier time giving it right back to somebody if they crossed the line with me, regardless of their seniority. Because to me, there's a common line of human respect that you should have for anyone regardless if they're a learner or they're 20 years into practice. So if I feel like the decency has been crossed, and sometimes it has with me, I've had comments about, 'Oh, you do better with a hockey stick in your hand and things like this. You know, early on when I was starting then I, I have no problem giving it right back. But mostly I try to use humour around that and I find it kinda diffuses it. And usually it speaks more to the person that's saying those things than it does to you. You know, you just don't take it very personal. And this is like kind of the way it is. But I hope that that's changing now.

Lalit:

I think it is. Has your view of medicine changed from when you were a little girl, when you wanted to be a doctor now that you are in it?

Hayley:

That's a really good question. I suppose it has. I guess, you know, when you're outside medicine and you look in you think the doctors have all the answers. And when I'm in Medicine I realize I don't know anything and I probably will continue to feel that way my whole career, so I always appreciate working with people who admit when they don't know, even if they're 25 years into it. Those are the doctors that I feel safest being around because they know their limitations. And I don't think any human can possibly know everything. It's always changing. What I do appreciate about medicine is the magic of the human body. And how much we get taught in medical school, but how much that is not taught that I think is still so valuable that's out there for us to know and to be aware of as doctors. It's not a cookie-cutter thing that every person presents very differently and has their own story. I guess that's challenging in a mass volume environment, but I do believe in the power of the mind and the human heart and that people can do way more than they think they can.

Lalit:

Yeah. Well, you have demonstrated that time and time again.

Hayley:

(Laughing) I try I guess. I've lived a bit of it, so that's how I know. I mean, whether it's through injuries or things in hockey and sport. I just know that the power of energy and the power of collective positivity and humour as we were talking about, like all of those things, like our body, 's made of cells and we can manipulate ourselves I think, maybe that's too esoteric for, for straight-up medicine, but I do believe in that. Yeah.

Lalit:

Yeah, I do too. Now you were the captain of the women's hockey team, you led them through four Olympic gold medals and how did you deal with conflict? Because I'm sure in every team, you know, sometimes players don't like each other. And in medicine, we have a team environment as well. How did you do that So consistently? You did it four times essentially.

Hayley:

Yeah. Every Olympic journey was always a different story. Like Salt Lake was just adversity. Then Torino was really smooth. Vancouver was relatively smooth, but pressure-filled cause you're in your own country. And then Sochi was just like the worst possible scenario and we pulled it out in the end. So there are all different ways to win. I believe that you can win with everything stacked in your favour and everything against you. But I think what it comes down to is people, and if you don't treat your people as your most important resource, you have nothing. And when I see this in medicine too is when I see less than effective teams or environments because I think the people in those environments don't feel valued and they don't feel heard. They feel overworked, they feel underappreciated.

There's a dynamic that you can sense where it doesn't feel like everyone has a valuable role. And so on our team, I can give you an example. We had one power-play once where it was five forwards on the power play, no defence. And the defence was down because you know, usually, you have three forwards and two D (defence) or one D (defence), but our coaches thought our defence wasn't good enough to play power play at that time. So (we had) five forwards. And so we recognize that as a leadership group that it was affecting the D (defence) and our team. So, when the next couple of days when the D came to the rink, we had a D appreciation day where we made them t-shirts, and we did l a pedicure and a manicure for them. We made them dinner and we did this whole like dramatic fun thing around the D. And you know, eventually, it was a few weeks later, one of the D got put on the power play and then we were all cheering, 'finally we got a D a on the power play' but we kind of took a situation that was really tense and it made light of it.

Hayley:

So when I see in medicine; I see environments that I think we lose track of how valuable people are sometimes and celebrating little successes along the way and just taking the time to just be kind to somebody or just talk to someone. It goes a long way.

Lalit:

Well, as a leader is that something you're proactive about? Always keeping the pulse of everything. You know, Wayne Gretzky? Big hockey hero of mine growing up.

Hayley:

Yeah. And mine too.

Lalit:

And you know, he knew everything. He could tell the second on the clock if it was too much. So is that something you were intentional about and proactive about? Making sure about not getting behind the eight ball?

Hayley:

100%. I think every day I stepped into the dressing room. I could definitely feel the vibe of what was going on. I have countless examples of that, but it's no different than when I, most of my electives are in emerg (Emergency Room) right now. So when I walk into the emergency room, I instantly get a pulse of what the vibe is. And it's very interesting on the different hospitals and the different emergency rooms, the dynamics of what is going on and which doctor comes on, how that shifts the things and how people tiptoe or don't, around environments.

And culture is everything. And if you don't have a culture, you can't have success.

Lalit:

So are there any tools, tips and tactics about working in a team environment that you could spell out for people in medicine? Like what are some things we should be watching out for? So a culture doesn't become bad.

Hayley:

Well, first of all, I think people have to get to know each other away from the rank or the hospital. That's a big thing. So if you're working with people every day, find out who they are- how's their life? How many kids do they have? What interests do they have? Find out something about them because people care that you care about them, not what you know. And if people feel valued and you know, simple things like, 'Oh, you're not feeling very well. Why don't go home an hour early?' or,' how was the race you ran on the weekend?' Just checking in with each other, right? So those are things that are so simple, but I think it gets overlooked in the busy world of medicine sometimes.

I think valuing everyone; yes, I see this hierarchy where you have the doctors: the attendings, the residents, the minions, like me and the clerks and then the nurses. I don't think the nurses and doctors are all the time a team and you can see that. People will talk about this. There's this shift. I actually was shocked. I thought, Oh, they'll work together in harmony. And it was like, Whoa, this doesn't happen. So, that would be very concerning. I would want the nurses on my side. I want them to help me and I want to do anything I can to make them feel comfortable and valued. And so I think if, if you are aware of that, then by just being open about having those conversations- we could call it like a kitchen table talk. Where you could sit down with your family ... I think people appreciate honesty, even if it's not something they want to hear; and they know that you have your back. And doing what you say and following through. That's huge. Don't sewer people.

Lalit:

Yeah. Integrity.

Hayley:

Yeah, exactly.

Lalit:

Well, the nurses are really the pulse of the hospital and the sooner you learn that and as soon as you connect with them because they've been really my best friends on the ward. I totally can relate to that.

Hayley:

I'm sure. Yes. That's my goal is to keep the nurses in the good books, right? I don't think it takes months to be kind, say hello, you know, go above and beyond. Especially if you're someone like myself as a clerk and you're learning - do, do extra - work hard. Like that's not hard a thing, you know.

Lalit:

They want to get along. People want to get along. I think that's the natural instinct. So when somebody comes in with an ego, they're the ones putting the roadblocks up and then that doesn't help anybody.

Hayley:

I agree. Yeah. And I think the more senior you or the more intimidating presence that you have the more you have to work to humanize yourself for the other people that you're around. Because they are intimidated. I felt that in on the hockey side of my life. And so, you know, using humour, self-deprecating sometimes or whatever it takes to kind of get others to see that you're just like them. And I think that's really important. And in humanizing yourself but not devaluing what it is that you bring for your skillset.

Lalit:

Yeah. I think humour is very important. I'm actually going to do a podcast episode. (that Episode was Episode 44 which I already did)I think one thing is that you have to be receptive to humour. You have to be willing to laugh and be in that state; some people are just so serious. And I see that in medicine you can still do good work. You can still enjoy the work and laugh. It doesn't mean you have to be disrespectful.

Hayley:

Absolutely, I see the same thing at the rink. The other day being the rink I went up to a few players and I'm like, you know, it's okay to smile here. You know, we're not, we're not doing neurosurgery. So, although in neurosurgery they probably can smile because they're so adept at what they're doing. But yes, it doesn't have to be all serious all day.

Lalit:

Yeah. I wanted to ask you, do you have a mindfulness or meditation practice? Is that something in your life?

Hayley:

Yeah, I have always been very much a visual person. So, when I played, I spent a lot of time just like closing my eyes and imagining scenarios that would unfold on the ice. I would watch a lot of videos and I would imagine myself in those shoes and doing it. For me meditation, I feel I get in a state when I'm moving, so I call it moving meditation. So I love to road ride and I can just be anywhere and just riding and music. Music really does it for me. I put music on and I can go to a whole other place. So, that I guess moving meditation when my body is moving, my mind is quiet.

Lalit:

When you say road ride, what do you mean?

Hayley:

Like a pedal bike, like a road bike, like a tour de France type of thing. Yeah. So a lot of road riding. But also just like training in general. I love to my body to train and to know, when I'm training I feel good. My mind is clear. I find I get my most creative ideas, and I go very calm when I'm working out.

Lalit:

What type of music do you like?

Hayley:

My teammates would laugh because it's all this European dance music, all of these like remixes and stuff. Oh yeah. I like wild, like world music, some Indian stuff. And yeah, just the interesting but I like all kinds of music depending on the mood or the time. And I play the piano a little bit and very poorly, but I find that that's also sort of similar. Music really does something for me. It changes my chemistry, I think, my body ...so that's my, that's my meditation I guess. I'm not as adept at just sitting and closing my eyes.

 

Lalit:

I do a lot of walking because I find I have to, I’m always walking. And so that settles me. I think one of the hardest parts of medicine is we do so much sitting unless you're in the emergency room. So that I find, I feel tired from sitting.

Hayley:

Well, I couldn't believe my first couple of months in med school- I almost died because of sitting. I decided that is not for me. And so I said there were two things that I was going to not sacrifice. Number one was my health, so my fitness. So, whether it was I was getting up early or finding other ways to get training in. I started standing at the back of the lecture theatre. I just think we're teaching medicine, but the way we teach it as counterproductive to medicine and I don't know how you get around that. The podcasting helps a lot. So I'm a big fan of podcasts. And the other thing I thought was my sleep. I know that you can't always get sleep in medicine. I understand that I'm pulling night shifts right now, but I won't sacrifice my sleep for anything because it's just functional life, you know? And so those things are really important.

Lalit:

I think we need to work better on sleeping in terms of the way we train (medical students/interns) because they should (get sleep), that should be protective time. The science is clear. If you're not sleeping, you're not performing, if you don't get enough sleep, you're in like a drunken state.

Hayley:

Well, I'm going to self-admit that I worked at 10:00 PM to a 10 am shift, a couple of weeks ago, and I got in my car to drive two hours back to Toronto and I had to pull off the road and have a nap. I realized that that was ridiculous. What was I thinking? So not only that but as I was in this shift, because this is relatively new for me, to work through the nights like that. I at one point said, "I am no good to anyone." My brain just could not function. And especially being a learner, not knowing much as it is, and you're trying to pull from fatigue, and I know fatigue well from being an athlete; I really had to go for a power walk. I had to do something to just get a coffee at 10 o'clock at night to get myself going. But it (sleep) is massively important and we need to value that.

Lalit:

Yup, I agree. One question I've been curious about: is I know that when you're passionate about something, when I was performing magic or I'm working on an idea like even knowing that I'm going to, even though we've met before and we've talked, I was so excited. But I had trouble kind of calming my busy mind at night and so sometimes I think "don't be so passionate, don't be so excited." Did you ever have that issue or problem?

Hayley:

I guess I do and I just honestly I exhaust myself by training. I think yeah when you get passionate or you get going because you're a productive person I think and you just, your mind is always going. I find like people in medicine are typically A-type go, go, go; always thinking and want to do good for the world in general. So I had a hard time after I quit playing to sleep at night when I wasn't training as much. And so I actually started training just as hard as I did when I played except I don't play on the ice as much. And that's really what I found, kind of helps me like sleep at night. But yeah, it's hard to kind of turn off your mind sometimes for sure.

 

Lalit:

Do you have a morning routine?

Hayley:

I do, although this crazy life of medicine has really changed it. But yes, typically I get up and I train first thing in the morning, if I can, depending on the day. Then I generally will be on the ice with the Leafs (Toronto Maple Leafs)right now. And then I'm generally working, my rotations shifts from the afternoon to the evenings. So that is my day to day right now. But yeah, I mean coffee, I'm a coffee drinker. Yeah.

Lalit:

You're a big proponent of mentorship and maybe we can talk a little bit about that. You know you're being mentored in the world of medicine now, but sometimes I find once we're done as a doctor and you've crossed the finish line; for many doctors, in my experience, mentorship stops. Can we chat about that?

Hayley:

Yeah. I remember talking about that and I just was saying, I was encouraging the group that I was speaking to, to continue being mentors; because you're e really changing people's lives. I can say in medicine, in particular, I've had a ton of people that have crossed my path that are incredible. But, three that stick out. My tutor - her name is Alex. She's a third-year internal medicine resident and another resident Nancy have single-handedly got me through med school; just to pick up the phone and talk about things. And then the doc that I shadow with, in Calgary, Dr. Gamble in the emerge for so many hours, like for years. The way in just watching her practices and talking medicine. And Dr. Millard who was our team doctor with the national team spending countless hours in the training room after practice just talking to her. All of those people influenced me prior to and also in medicine. And there is no way that you get through medical school and become a doctor without great mentors. And those are the people...My parents were teachers and I run into students that they taught all the time and they'll say, 'you know, your mom and dad, they changed my life. 'And I tell my parents all the time you have no idea how many thousands of people you influence. Well, it's the same thing I think with doctors: you know, just giving your time an hour or two, you can change somebody's life. It's happened to me. It was the trajectory of going into emerge because I got great experiences with the people I was with. Even now the people that take their time to just teach me something for 10 minutes, I'm just like, wow. Like you don't have to do that. I’m so grateful. So it is appreciated and it's really needed.

Lalit:

It is really needed. And it's something that I know when I've given talks to other doctors, it's the one thing I bring up biggest that we need to schedule that (time to talk with others) we need to remember that. Because sometimes we just think about what's the latest evidence and we start just learning that. We forget that we have access to so many peers that we can continue to learn or grow.

Hayley:

Yeah. Because one of the things that I'm noticing in medicine is you really have to like to do a lot of things. You have to go through things to really learn them. You can't just learn them in a lecture theatre. I'm learning how to put a central line in. It's like, Oh my God, the first time you learn, 'I should not be doing this', but I'm standing with a woman who's done 10,000 of them in her career. And so it's like, 'okay, everything's going to be all right ‘and that's what we need to have or you just don't get those skills. So it takes a lot of patience, I think. And it takes a special person, but they're needed.

Lalit:

Do you want to share that story when you were putting a stitch in a person in BC? Do you remember that? It's a good story.

Hayley:

Yeah. The first stitch I put in; so I'm in my first elective in the summer in Vernon, BC and I'm nervous. You know, you do stitches on pig's feet and skin and all this stuff, but it's not on a human. And so I can't wait for this first suture. I hope it's a simple arm or something. Well, this woman comes in and she had banged her head on a dryer and it was sort of like this a star-shaped cut. And the doc looks at me and says "you do sutures?" And I said, "well, I'll try to." I promised myself one thing that I was going to always say, yes, I'll try; but if you show me. So I said, yes, I can do it if you just remind me of a few things. 

So I walked in the room and the woman right away knew who I was and she's like "Oh my God, you're Haley Wickenheiser". And I said, "yes" and I said yeah, it's your lucky day my first-day doing sutures. She goes, "I don't even care if you'd leave a giant scar on my forehead. I'm so happy that you're doing my sutures." So anyway, I stitched her up. I think it was four or five and hopefully, I didn't botch it too badly, but she asked for a selfie at the end. So how could I refuse? She was so gracious to let me put a few sutures in her head and hopefully she won't have a scar, but I think she will.

Lalit:

You know what I have to tell you, for somebody who's accomplished so much, you're very down to earth. I don't think people ... I don't think you, you don't intimidate people; that would be my guess. I think that's one of the best attributes you have.

Hayley:

Well, thank you. I have nothing to intimidate people with when it comes to medicine. 

 

Lalit:

If anybody has bragging rights you do.

Hayley:

Uh, it's I don't know. I always believe in hockey. I think you're only as good as your last game. And I think the same thing in medicine. Like she's, you're only as good as the last suture you did or the last patient you saw. So there's always something to learn. And I always kind of think of myself as being a seeker. I think just always curious about what's out there. You know, how to get better.

Lalit:

I want to ask you about Dr. Syl Corbett and kind of turn the conversation to breast cancer. Breast cancer is something very dear to me. My mom at age 52, died of breast cancer. 25% of all new cancers are breast cancers. One out of every eight women gets breast cancer. And so it is very important for me to use this as an opportunity to talk about that.

Hayley:

Yeah, sure. I know Syl wouldn't mind me talking about this because she's, she's openly talked about it and you know, it's been, it's been out there in the media. Syl Corbett is my best friend and was my trainer for years. She still does all my training programs. Syl is a world-class mountain runner, uphill mountain runner. She's competed, I think, in over a hundred Ironmen competitions in her life - incredible triathlete, the whole nine yards. So she’s vegan, fit, nonsmoker, nondrinker doesn't even swear like a perfect human, right. And I guess this would be in December she called me one day and said, I think I have cancer. And I said, "what?!" (she said) "breast cancer."

 

I thought it was the first stage early days. Long story short, I took her to the emergency and that night they did CT and it was metastatic. Stage four told us right in the emerge that night. And you know, honestly, it's a situation of her knowing something was wrong, but feeling so good that she could still run and function in life and not believing that this could happen to someone like herself and not getting regular mammograms, but having a history of breast cancer with her mom and being an elite athlete. Sometimes you think you're immune to these things. I'll admit it myself. You know, we don't get sick. We rarely get sick, you know, injuries, we heal fast. So there's that mentality there that, you know, I'm good. And so it was found very late. And so she's now undergoing chemotherapy for stage four metastatic breast cancer. DIC I think,inflammatory ductal cancer and you know, she's doing remarkably well. She is like a picture of health.

Hayley:

She went from 1000 mm pleural effusions to less than 150, slowly drying up every few days as we go. And from someone who had lymph nodes everywhere and just very weak bones. She's kind of partially jogging again. But this is someone who has never let it define her from the moment this happened. And her resiliency is just through the roof because of who she was and what she went through as an athlete. All these ultra-marathon races of just suffering. And her lifestyle is impeccable the way she's eating. Like everything is just like anticancer and taking the latest in science and listening to science, but also listening to the natural side of things. Blending meditation and all of these things. So I have my money on her that she's going to do this. She's doing very well so far. And the oncology team at Tom Baker (Centre in Calgary, Alberta) also thinks the same thing. Dr Alimohamed and they're amazing. So I have to say though, in this process, my friend, she's very she's natural, vegan, never taken a med in her life and she's had to rely on medicine to save her life. And medicine is saving her life. I think. And so there's a need. You know, we kind of rail on chemotherapy and we rail on medicine sometimes, but there is a need for these drugs. They are there for a reason. And I've really lived this and experienced this with her. To appreciate how important that side of medicine is when it's needed as well.

Lalit:

Yeah. Well, I'm going to use this time to promote any of the listeners, to get, if you're a female, get a mammogram. Get screening done, see your family doctor. If you're a male listening, get your mom, your wife, your sister, because screening is the best thing we can do. Women are so busy taking care of others, they forget to take care of themselves. And I've seen that happen, you know, not only with the mammograms but also cervical cancer.

Hayley:

I will admit that I would have been like Syl, I would have blown off a mammogram. I'm fit and I'm healthy, but after what I've seen her go through when the tide's at 50 that you get when your first one, I think your mammogram? Off, that's a few years away from me. But I'll be going for that and I appreciate that more than I did. I respect that.

Lalit:

Or if there's a family history you'd get it much sooner. Much sooner. So that's good. Yeah. So three words to describe Hayley Wickenheiser.

Hayley:

I guess I was going to say borderline crazy, but that's the only two, but I'd say a relentless work ethic. I guess that's probably what would sum me up in this time and period in my life.

Lalit:

And humble. I would say definitely humble.

Hayley:

Well, I grew up in small-town Saskatchewan, so yeah, small town. Yeah. I'm a small-town girl. There's your three words. Small town girl at heart and yeah, I love what I do every day.

Lalit:

For the listeners who don't know about WICK FEST, let's talk about that.

Hayley:

Yeah, sure. So Wick Fest is now 11th year. It's a hockey festival that I started after the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Actually yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of our gold medal win in Vancouver. It's crazy how time flies, right? The Olympics in Vancouver were 10 years ago. So I had this idea that we should develop female hockey in Canada, but in the lower mainland in particular, because it was really weak at that time. So I created a hockey festival, which brought together, at the start was 45 teams and what we did is we built in off ice session.

 

So it is like a professional development weekend for kids in hockey, where they would sign up for sessions in mental training, fitness and nutrition. And we even have a mammogram for moms, mammograms and mimosas now for moms where moms can come and learn about breast health that was kind of fitting I guess. So, it's a professional development weekend wrapped in five games of hockey for teams and we've grown it between Surrey, Calgary and next year we'll be in Halifax. We'll have over 350 teams and 6,000 players from around the world coming to these three different events. We work with Olympic athletes and NHL players. And we bring them in to be our experts. And the whole goal is that the kids leave, not a better hockey player, but a better athlete in a more well-rounded person. Hockey is kind of secondary. It's supposed to be fun and not like any other tournament that exists.

Lalit:

Fantastic. Any last final words that you want to share.

Hayley:

Well, I just really appreciate like having this conversation with you.

Hayley:

I don't profess or consider myself an expert in the field of medicine at all, but I have had significant experience in teams. What I see and what I am learning in medicine or whether it's medicine, business, hockey, it's all very applicable. It just comes down to people and how you manage people. And I think one of the greatest privileges that I have is to be able to go into an emerge (ER) or a hospital and do something that actually helps someone feel better. I almost love that more than playing hockey ever. The joy that it brings me than playing hockey ever did. So yeah, so it's an honour to be able to talk a few things about medicine and thanks for having me.

Lalit:

I know you're super busy, but if people want to get a hold of you, what's the best way?

Hayley:

So I'm, I'm on Twitter wick_ 22 and Instagram, it's hchickwick. And we're on Facebook and you can go on my website and I have an email on my website. You can email me directly on our website.

Lalit:

Hayley thank you for taking the time today.

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