Golden Knights’ Shea Theodore opens up about cancer diagnosis

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Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Shea Theodore was looking forward to a relaxing off-season, but a routine blood test changed all that.

In an emotional article published in The Players’ Tribune on Thursday, Theodore revealed that he was diagnosed with Stage I testicular cancer this past summer. Three months later, the 24-year-old is cancer-free and has made a full recovery following surgery — and now he’s telling his story in hopes of spreading awareness to other young men.

“If you’re reading this article and you’re a young man, I can’t stress it enough: Know the symptoms,” Theodore wrote.

“At your next checkup, you should ask your doctor if you notice anything. There’s no reason whatsoever to be embarrassed. Just DO it — because early detection is SO important. Early detection saved my hockey career. And who knows… if it had spread? I don’t even want to think about that…”

Theodore got the diagnosis shortly after returning home from claiming a silver medal with Canada at the 2019 World Championships. It turns out, the blood test conducted on him at the tournament revealed high levels of the hormone hCG, which can be a sign of testicular cancer. The presence of the hormone triggered a failed drug test and caught the attention of medial staff. It wasn’t long before Theodore underwent surgery to have a small lump removed from his testicle, which a biopsy later confirmed was cancerous.

“The whole butterfly effect of what happened is pretty mind boggling, honestly,” Theodore wrote. “If I had not taken that test, and then if the cancer had gone undetected for a few more years..… I don’t even want to think about how differently my life could’ve turned out. Whether or not you believe everything happens for a reason, what happened to me really feels like a miracle.”

Theodore shared several personal stories in the article, including how he struggled initially to open up to friends and teammates about his health and the endless support he received from his Golden Knights family once he did. He also wrote about receiving a surprise text from Phil Kessel, who underwent a similar diagnosis and procedure as a 19-year-old, and the words of encouragement he received from the veteran.

“I got a text from a random number. It was Phil. My agent had told him that I was going in for surgery, and he sent me a really nice text wishing me luck and telling me that everything was going to be O.K.,” he wrote. “To hear that from somebody who had been through it himself, and come out the other side not just healthy, but a superstar player in this league, it meant so much to me.”

Theodore and the Golden Knights also announced a new initiative beginning this season: For every point he registers in 2019-20, Theodore will made a donation to early detection causes, with the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation matching dollar for dollar.

“I hope my story helps bring awareness to a subject matter that a lot of men aren’t comfortable talking about and helps encourage early detection and screening,” Theodore wrote. “I will be working with the Golden Knights and the Golden Knights Foundation to support this cause and look forward to being an ambassador and advocate for such an important issue.”

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