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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month | BG family tells their story so others know the signs

Bowling Green's Bovia family honored their dad and lifelong hockey fan Marvin, at the Toledo Walleye's Hockey Fights Cancer night on Friday.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Bovia family from Bowling Green is to hockey what turkey is to Thanksgiving; you can't have one without the other.

On a Friday night during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, the entire Bovia family was downtown at the Huntington Center for the Toledo Walleye's Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

And although they love hockey, they were also there to honor family patriarch, Marvin Bovia, who died from pancreatic cancer in October.

The fight night's 'purple-out' at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo, brought together all the things the Bovia's are passionate about: hockey, raising awareness for pancreatic cancer, and remembering their dad.

Marvin Bovia was a Toledo Walleye fan. The 63-year-old was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in November 2021. 

"My dad is much more than cancer. My dad was a roofer, he was a wonderful husband, the best father that I could ask for throughout my life," said Adam Bovia. 

Adam was Marvin's eldest son. Marvin was also a huge hockey fan, having played hockey for 30 years on a Findlay Men's team, and before that in high school where he got his varsity letter.

"He would tell you if you can't play nice - play hockey," said Rhonda Bovia. 

Rhonda is Marvin's wife of nearly 43 years. She said they met when they were young, and 45 years later she's learning for the first time how to live without him.

She loved her husband dearly, just being in his presence was enough, she said. 

Married to Marvin for more than 42 years, she knew him inside and out. She said she loved that he retired at 54 so they were able to enjoy almost a decade of life together before cancer took him at 63 years old. 

Rhonda said her husband fought hard in the last 11 months of his life, and even managed to have some fun out on the ice. 

"He actually played hockey in January of this year. When he had pancreatic cancer. His last game was at Huntington arena, " said Rhonda.

Both Rhonda and Adam said hockey is the common bond that binds generations of the family. Marvin was able to play hockey with both of his sons, coach, and even his grandson, according to family members.

"I think hockey and cancer go hand in hand. Hockey players are built tough. We get hurt, we get back on the ice. That's what cancer patients show, is that resilience," said Adam.  

The PurpleStride Cancer Walk in Columbus for pancreatic cancer was an extremely important event to Marvin. 

With everyone's participation, they were able to donate just over $6500 to cancer research on behalf of team "MarvOlus Life". There were even team t-shirts.

Marvin was also a DJ for Bowling Green University station WBGU, a Saturday morning regular on the Blues Breakfast.

Now in the family's home sits a small memorial to Marvin with pictures, quotes, and even his own handwriting, giving small pieces of who he was.

It also sits as an inspiration, like he would provide on days like the Walleye game day. 

"Towards the end there, his motto was 'No Quit'" Adam said. "Every game ends, every game there's a third period. Its' not always the one we want, but."

The Bovia's said they wanted to share their story to bring more awareness about watching for signs of pancreatic cancer. 

They said for Marvin it was a backpain that wasn't normal to his aches and pains he had from being a professional roofer. 

It's important to get checked out, says Rhonda. 

She is happy for the 11 months she got with her husband, but wishes there was a way more could have been done for him. 

To learn more about the warning signs and more information about pancreatic cancer, click here


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