In Third Fight With Cancer, Fairfield Hockey Goalie Finds Strength in Family

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If you're driving around Fairfield or really, just keeping your eyes peeled anywhere in the state, you might see hockey sticks out on doorsteps. It's a nod to Fairfield hockey player Charlie Capalbo...

At 22 years old he should be in net for the Fairfield University Club Hockey team. Instead, he’s battling cancer for a third time.

“The second time was a blur,” said Charlie Capalbo. “The first time I remember very clearly and then this time was just…we're just used to it we were like, ‘guess we're doing this again.’”

Just like settling back in net to run the same drill, one more time. It’s become a routine. Capalbo, a lifelong hockey goalie, always ready for what might hit him.

“Pretty much if there's every anything abnormal that I notice it crossed your mind,” said Capalbo.

“We didn't want to think, but you couldn’t help but think,” said his dad, Anthony Capalbo.

January 2021, the diagnosis: cancer, again. Capalbo was first diagnosed with lymphoma in 2017, then leukemia in 2018; this time, a relapse. As Capalbo old readied for yet another battle his whole team suited up.

“It's indescribable how supported I feel,” said Capalbo. “This time around I literally feel like I have a country.”

From hockey legends like Henrick Lundqvist to WWE superstars like John Cena, to ever neighbor, friend and even stranger, Capalbo losing track of who to thank. But one of his closest teammates has had the biggest impact: his brother, Will.

The younger Capalbo was Charlie’s bone marrow donor during his second battle. This time around, that transplant making him stronger and more ready to fight.

“This is the best shape I’ve been in in any of the three diagnoses,” said Capalbo to his brother on a Zoom call from his hospital room in Boston. “And that's because of you.”

“There were times in the past where he was just kind of there and now I get to play Xbox with him a few times a week,” said Will.

They’ll settle for video games now, but Capalbo has his sights set on getting back to the rink.

“Pretty much the number one goal is to put the pads back on,” said Capalbo.

He says he hopes being so open with his battle encourages more people to join the bone marrow registry.

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