When Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore failed his drug test playing for Team Canada at the world championships in May, it was a bitter pill to swallow. As it turns out, the failed test very well may have saved his life. The popular Golden Knight was diagnosed with testicular cancer after further testing for the performance enhancers revealed it was the cancer, not PEDs, that triggered the positive result.
Needless to say, it was a shock for Theodore. Further testing confirmed the 24-year-old had the disease, but the early detection made the procedure routine for doctors to target the mass and, thanks to successful surgery, he is expected to make a full recovery.
“I was finally ready to come home and relax after such a crazy few months,” Theodore wrote in The Players Tribune. “And then…my whole life changed in the blink of an eye.”
Initially, the failed test was a disappointment as Theodore did not recall taking any supplements. Doctors explained that the hormone that triggered his specific failed test was called hCG, which is usually only found in women during pregnancy but, in some cases, hCG can be a sign of testicular cancer.
“When I heard the news, I was still kind of in shock,” he wrote. “Everything happened really fast.”
Theodore wrote that the most difficult aspect of the scare was telling friends and family members about the diagnosis. Testicular cancer, although relatively rare, mostly affects men between ages of 15 and 35. although it can affect males at any age. In 2019, roughly 9,560 new cases of testicular cancer were diagnosed.
“So my girlfriend and I came up with a plan to tell our friends and teammates in Vegas,” he said.” “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.”
Theodore had the surgery three months ago and, as fans already know, his teammates were right there with him every step of the way. The camaraderie within the Golden Misfits is hard to miss.
“And by the way, if you thought I was exaggerating about the first-class guys we have on the Knights, Max Pacioretty and his wife had a three-day meal service sent to our house so I didn’t have to worry about anything while I was stuck on the couch,” he recalled. “Really appreciated that.”
With the recovery in the rear view mirror, Theodore says he is excited to get back to work with his teammates, who he considers family. He doesn’t take anything for granted any more.
“Now, I wake up every single morning and I’m just happy that I get the chance to put on my skates and do what I love, and see the people that I love, and laugh with the boys. These are the things that you can’t help but take for granted when you’re 24 years old. You never think that something like this could happen to you.”
Shea will donate to early detection causes for every point he tallies during the 2019-20 season. The Vegas Golden Knights Foundation will match Shea dollar for dollar. If you are interested in making a donation to bring awareness to early detection, please donate to the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation and designate your donation to Shea Theodore and/or Early Detection.