Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser diagnosed with rare blood disorder

TORONTO -- Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser has been diagnosed with an incurable form of blood cancer.

Fraser wrote on the NHL's website Friday that he has a rare blood disorder called essential thrombocythemia, known as ET.

He described it as "an incurable cancer in the leukemia family, although in rare instances it can evolve into a related disease called myelofibrosis, or into acute leukemia."

He added that while it is incurable, patients can live a normal life with it for many years. However, it carries a danger of developing blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

"I consider myself blessed that this rare disease was diagnosed before I had a stroke or heart attack," he wrote. "At 65, I was planning on living a healthy, full life for many more years. Now that I know I have this disease I can take extra precautions to keep my blood thinner and hopefully prevent a blood clot from hitting my heart or brain."

Fraser retired in 2010 after 30 years as an NHL referee.