Shea Theodore describes his offseason battle with testicular cancer in Players Tribune essay


“Well, we can schedule the surgery for next Tuesday.” 

The doctor said it just like that. 

And I was like, “Wait … what? So … do I have it?” 

“The scan shows a five millimeter by five millimeter lump in your testicle. It’ll be a routine procedure. Once we take it out and do a biopsy, we’ll know more about the type of cancer. But you’re young, and we caught it early.”  

  • Taking to The Players Tribune in an article published Thursday, Golden Knights defenceman Shea Theodore revealed that he has been battling testicular cancer over the offseason.
  • He has since made a full recovery.
  • He initially learned of the diagnosis after a failed drug test at the IIHF World Championship in May.
  • Theodore was playing with Team Canada in their run resulting in a silver-medal, and shortly after their loss in the final to Finland, he describes being pulled aside in the locker room.
  • He joined Team Canada at the world championships once Vegas was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, and as he was walking to the locker room with a silver medal hanging around his neck, he was informed that he’d failed a drug test.
  • The actual cause of the failed test was an elevated presence of the hormone hCG, which is commonly found in pregnant women but also an indicator of testicular cancer.
  • Tests confirmed Theodore had the disease, but the early detection made the procedure routine for doctors to target the mass.
  • Early detection at the worlds was key, Theodore wrote.

“I was walking to the locker room right after we got our silver medals, and this guy in a suit grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, Shea, please come with me.’

You always know what that means. Random drug test. It’s no big deal, usually — but I was kind of surprised, because I had already taken one a few games before. Two in one tournament is pretty unusual. 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.”

  • Theodore returned home following the tournament to see his doctor and officially received the diagnosis.

So my girlfriend and I came up with a plan to tell our friends and teammates in Vegas. In Vegas, we’re extremely tight. Not just the players, but the wives and girlfriends and family members, too. If you think about it, it’s a pretty unique situation, because you had 23-plus guys and their families all moving out to a new city at the same time, just trying to figure everything out. It was almost like everyone was a freshman in college. We’re close in a different way than most teams. We actually have this massive group text for all the wives and girlfriends, and it’s really like its own news organization. If anything happens, or anyone needs something, it’s on the chat within five seconds. 

We figured that if we told everyone the news on the chat, it might soften the blow a little bit, and people hopefully wouldn’t freak out. Which might’ve been wishful thinking, in hindsight. I remember sitting on the couch, and my girlfriend pressed send — and literally within 10 seconds, I was getting a FaceTime from Jonathan Marchessault. I’d actually just worked out with Marchy that morning, and I didn’t say anything, so I think he was a little stunned. 

  • After sharing the news privately, Theodore received support from family and friends, including fellow NHLer Phil Kessel, who faced his own battle with testicular cancer in 2006.
  • Theodore is entering his fifth NHL season and third with the Golden Knights.
  • He didn’t reveal whether he will have to miss any time but is currently included on Vegas’ training camp roster.


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