Moments after Team Canada lost the gold medal game to Finland in the IIHF World Championship this spring, Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore was pulled aside by someone “in a suit.”
He was told he had failed a drug test, but it was because of an increase in a hormone called hGC, one normally found in women during pregnancy.
But it could also lead to signs of testicular cancer, which Theodore revealed he was diagnosed with in a post published by the Players’ Tribune on Thursday.
“When I heard the news, I was still kind of in shock,” Theodore wrote. “Everything happened really fast. We had gotten knocked out of the playoffs a lot sooner than we expected. But then a few days later, I had the opportunity to join Team Canada at the Worlds — so everything was really a blur.”
Theodore had the surgery to remove a five-millimeter by five-millimeter mass in his testicle and said he has made a full recovery. The cancer was found during a blood test administered during the world championship.
The Golden Knights had off-ice testing Thursday to start training camp, but there was no indication that Theodore would miss time.
Vegas begins preseason play Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes at T-Mobile Arena.
“As young men, as hockey players, we don’t always like to be vulnerable. Even with stuff as serious as cancer, we like to put on a brave face and pretend everything is normal. That’s what we’re good at,” Theodore wrote. “The big stuff, life and death — it’s almost too much to process. But for me, everything gets real when I think about all the little things that could’ve been taken away from me.”
Theodore and the Golden Knights Foundation will donate matching donations to early detection causes for every point he scores this season.
“I know how fortunate I was to be able to come through this experience with my health, and be able to continue playing the game that I love,” he said. “What I went through is nothing compared to the kids that I’ve met who have to go through chemo and radiation to fight their cancer. They’re far more brave than I am. But I hope that at the very least, my experience can bring more awareness to an issue that young men don’t typically like to talk about.”