Colgate senior defenseman Mike Campaner made public Thursday that he suffers from multiple sclerosis, an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system. Campaner was diagnosed with MS in December.
Campaner is managing his condition through medication, and he is currently in remission. Since his diagnosis, Campaner missed just one game for the Raiders, and played in 30 of the team’s 40 games during the 2006-07 season. An undrafted free agent, Campaner plans to pursue a professional playing career after graduation. He hopes to join goaltender Jordan Sigalet of the AHL’s Providence Bruins as the only two professional hockey players in the U.S. publicly playing with multiple sclerosis.
“Currently, I feel great and back to normal health; I work out every day,” Campaner said. “I decided to wait until now to go public with my diagnosis because I did not want it to be a distraction to my teammates during the season. Now, however, I want to tell my story because I want to give hope to others who are diagnosed with MS that they will be able to live a normal life and accomplish any goals that they set for themselves.”
Campaner, an ECACHL all-rookie team selection in 2004, finished his collegiate career this season as one of the most talented defensemen in school history. The offensive-minded Campaner scored a career-high 20 points as a junior, and completed his career with 62 points. He skated in 137 games over four years, which places him among the all-time leaders at Colgate in that category.
“We knew that something was wrong with Mike early this season,” said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. “He had some vague and very unusual symptoms. But not knowing exactly what was wrong was very frustrating for Mike. Certainly the first few days after he was diagnosed with MS were frightening times for all of us. But I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I have been with how he has handled this situation. His courage and unselfishness and how he worked to get back on the ice was a huge inspiration to the entire team, and now he hopes that by making people aware that he has MS, it will inspire others with the disease to battle like he has to improve their quality of life.”
Multiple sclerosis affects the brain and spinal cord and can result in loss of muscle control, vision, balance, physical sensation, or thinking ability. With MS, the body’s immune system attacks normal tissues in the nervous system.
“Mike is an elite athlete who knows his body well,” said Colgate team physician Dr. Merrill Miller. “He has had low back disc disease causing some leg discomfort in the past, but in mid-November 2006 he pulled himself out of a game against Dartmouth because something was different. He had tingling of his calves and feet and said, ‘I just don’t feel strong.’ Within a week we had MRI testing that was strongly suggestive of MS. Additional testing was done in early December confirming the diagnosis. Mike has seen neurologists and MS specialists, and he is in remission. He returned to full-time ice hockey within weeks of the diagnosis. He is now on injectable medication to maintain his remission. We are appropriately full of optimism for Mike’s future and anticipate he will have a long professional hockey career.”
Colgate will announce plans for a fundraiser in honor of Campaner to benefit Multiple Sclerosis Resources of Central New York, Inc., at a later date. The Syracuse-based MS Resources is dedicated to education and awareness about multiple sclerosis, and provides resources to individuals with MS in Central New York. Ninety cents of every dollar donated to MS Resources is spent directly on their clients.
For more information on MS Resources, call 315-438-4790 or 1-800-975-2404, or e-mail [email protected]. Updated information about Campaner and his battle with MS will be available on his web page on the Colgate athletics website.