Born and raised in Aldergrove, current NHL defenceman for the Las Vegas Golden Knights Shea Theodore, battled the San Jose Sharks in a special “Hockey Fights Cancer” match Thursday night.
Theodore’s own brush with the disease after a failed drug test this summer sparked the game’s dedication. It was heightened hCG hormone levels that alerted doctors to testicular cancer.
It was the team’s third game this season against the Sharks – only this time, during pre-game warm-up Las Vegas players donned purple jerseys that were auctioned off with proceeds going towards early cancer detection.
“The fact that I found out early was the biggest key, and that’s what I’m trying to push,” Theodore said in a recent Golden Knights’ interview.
Theodore, now a survivor, continues to battle the stigma surrounding men’s testicular health both on and off the ice.
He’s accompanied in the fight against cancer by another member of his family, his grandmother Kay Darlington.
The Theodore family, from Langley, recently found out that Darlington – whose lived in Mexico for the past few decades – is battling stage-four breast cancer, for the second time.
“The treatment she underwent in Mexico wasn’t working,” explained Theodore’s older sister Alyssa, also an avid hockey player.
It didn’t take long for the family, with the help of Golden Knights management, to rush Darlington to the aid of a specialized cancer centre near Theodore in Las Vegas.
“They flew her and my mother in on a private jet from Mexico to Las Vegas” almost as soon as they heard the cancer had spread, Alyssa elaborated.
“She has a lot of life in her,” she added.
The team even asked the grandmother to drop the puck at the Nov 21. game’s ceremonial face-off at a packed T-Mobile arena.
“When they reached out to her she had a couple of tears in her eye,” Theodore admitted.
Theodore escorted Darlington out onto center ice in her purple jersey. She dropped the puck amidst a sea of cell phone lights and a roar of arena applause.
“Shea Theodore doesn’t normally take faceoffs, but he took one tonight. And it was one he’ll never forget,” the Golden Knights posted to Twitter.
The grandmother will soon undergo chemotherapy in her and her family’s continued efforts to conquer the disease.
During the game, the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation presented a $75,000 check to pediatric cancer organizations.
Audience members took the opportunity to fill out “I fight for” purple signs in support of their loved ones, and others, irreversibly impacted by cancer.
Las Vegas defenceman Jon Merrill held up an “I fight for” purple sign that read Theodore’s name.
Other teammates jotted down the name of their parents, friends, and others.
The Sharks beat the Golden Knights 2-1 in overtime.