Aldergrove-born NHL defenceman Shea Theodore said “everything happens for a reason,” after a failed drug test alerted doctors to his cancer.
The Aldergrove Minor Hockey product, now age 24, admits it was “tough” to tell his family, who still live in Langley.
“I’m not normally a guy that’s very open about a lot of things,” Theodore admitted. “Failing that drug test and the result that came out of it – I am extremely lucky.”
His luck came in the form of high hCG hormone levels found on a drug test he had taken before last season’s quarterfinals.
Knowing that he hadn’t taken performance-enhancing drugs, the results alerted doctors to the early signs of testicular cancer.
Theodore underwent a successful surgery, made a full recovery, and will now be monitored closely to make sure the cancer doesn’t return, he said.
The player used his personal essay to break the silence and stigma on a men’s health issue that has affected other NHL players early in their career as well, like Phil Kessel.
Arizona Coyotes right-winger Kessel, beat testicular cancer and was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2006 after returning to the ice.
“Early detection saved my hockey career,” Theodore said.
A few days before his surgery to remove the lump, Theodore happened upon Kessel at a golf course. Kessel later sent Theodore a message of support following his surgery.
“I just can’t wait to be back doing what I love,” Theodore said in the post. “I truly want to enjoy every single moment this season. Every practice, every game, every plane ride… all of that could have been taken away from me. Honestly, it’s kind of a miracle that things worked out the way they did.”
Now, almost a month into the NHL season, the Aldergrove player is back and scoring. Most recently, on Oct. 22 Theodore scored the deciding shootout goal against the Chicago Blackhawks.
This season, for every point Theodore tallies he will donate to causes in support of early detection. The Vegas Golden Knights Foundation have also committed to match the athlete dollar for dollar.
Those interested in making a donation to bring awareness to early detection can donate to the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation in his honour.