Earlier this morning,The Players Tribune shared an article
by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore. This article written by Theodore detailed his battle with testicular cancer, this summer.
A tough diagnosis for a great guy (USA Today Sports)
In the article, Theodore explains how he was diagnosed and the circumstances surrounding it are unreal. The following passage from his article are heart-stopping.
"The guy walked me back into this little room, and there were four other guys in suits sitting there, waiting for me. That’s when I thought, O.K. that’s weird.
Then they told me the news.
I’d failed the drug test that I’d taken before the quarterfinals.
All I could think was, That’s actually impossible. I’ve never taken anything. This is a nightmare.
I broke out into a cold sweat. They were saying all these words and terms, and all I could think was, How is this possible?? What weird protein shake did I drink?? Am I dreaming??
They explained to me that the hormone that triggered my specific failed test was called hCG, and that it’s usually only found in women during pregnancy. But then they explained that in some cases, hCG can be a sign of testicular cancer."
It is truly a blessing that he was able to attend the tournament, which required random drug testing. As we all know, the Golden Knights could have been knee deep in playoff hockey and Theodore would not have been able to play in the tournament, alongside teammates Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone. Without their unceremonious exit in the first round, only God knows how long Theodore would have continued to live with the 5mm cancerous growth undetected.
"Luckily, I had such amazing support from everyone. The week before my surgery."
Finding out you have cancer has to be one of the hardest things imaginable, especially for an elite-level athlete who should be accustomed to a feeling of invincibility. Luckily for Theodore, his agent played a role in calming his nerves, due to unique experience with this type of thing.
"My agent did a really great job of keeping me calm, because he had been through something similar with Phil Kessel. He just kept telling me that even if they did end up finding something, I was really young, and I was going to be O.K."
Theodore made it through surgery with the support of his teammates, a team that he says are "first-class, quality human beings."
"Those guys mean so much to me, and I didn’t know how to talk to them about it. I didn’t want them to look at me like I was sick. I just wanted everything to feel normal. Luckily, I had such amazing support from everyone."
I can honestly say, even as a guy who has been in the locker room and talked to the players, I felt the narrative about this being a different team, a special group, could have been overblown. One passage in his "Players Tribune" article has erased any doubt that may have lingered in my mind. The Golden Knights do have a special group of not just players, but families.
Shea Theodore and his teammates are very close (USA Today Sports)
"And by the way, if you thought I was exaggerating about the first-class guys we have on the Knights, Max Pacioretty and his wife had a three-day meal service sent to our house so I didn’t have to worry about anything while I was stuck on the couch. Really appreciated that."
Max Pacioretty, all-around awesome guy (USA Today Sports)
In closing, Theodore urged the importance of getting regular checks. If a young (24-year-old), high-level athlete can get hit, anyone can. Thankfully, the Golden Knights were bounced from the playoffs. Thankfully, the IIHF World Championships have very comprehensive blood testing. Thankfully, Shea Theodore has recovered, is healthy, and poised for another season of elite production for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Shea beat cancer and hopefully it stays that way (USA Today Sports)
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