By Kelly Werthmann
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– A champagne shower is the type of celebration you would expect to see in a locker room after a team’s great win.
That’s exactly what happened in the Colorado Eagles locker room at the Budweiser Event Center on Monday. Not because the minor league hockey team just won back-to-back titles, rather to celebrate champions of a much different victory.
Champions like Nina Rentschler.
“This is awesome!” Nina shouted in the locker room.
Nina didn’t win a big game in a big arena. She beat cancer.
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“Now that I’ve gone through this, I feel like I can do anything,” she told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
The 37-year-old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last October. She endured 20 weeks of chemotherapy treatments at the UCHealth Cancer Center in Fort Collins, a journey she never expected.
“It was hard telling our 11-year-old daughter,” she said. “It’s surreal. You feel like you’re drinking out of a firehose. It’s so overwhelming and emotional.”
Nina said her family and her faith helped her through, especially when she began losing her hair.
“There’s something about losing a little bit of your womanhood with that, so there was an emotional piece of that,” she said.
Even still, Nina kept a positive attitude and smiled through much of her cancer battle. On the day of her final chemo treatment, she rang a bell at the hospital symbolizing she was cancer free. It’s something many other UCHealth cancer survivors have done before – but the hospital and the Colorado Eagles wanted to take that victory celebration a step further, for Nina and other survivors.
“This is going to be the cherry on top of the sundae,” Nina said with a big grin ahead of the locker room celebration. “My bell ringing was the whip cream, now I get to put the cherry on time.”
With a cart full of sparkling cider – to keep things family friendly – goggles and the Kelly Cup on proud display, a team of survivors and their families celebrated a great win.
“It’s just a huge achievement that she made it through everything,” Nina’s 11-year-old, cider-soaked daughter said. “She never stopped. She just kept going and being positive, so I’m really proud of her.”
Even if Colorado’s teams don’t always bring home a trophy, Nina is hopeful cancer-beating champions such as herself can be celebrated in style every year.
“Maybe we can start something,” she said. “This is such a great way to honor just being a survivor.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.