Former Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman officially cancer free
Published Friday, February 9, 2018 9:30PM AST
A former defenceman with the Saint John Sea Dogs who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year is now cancer free.
Oliver Felixson was forced to put his hockey career on hold in March 2017 to fight the disease in his native Finland.
“Treatments are what they are. It's really rough stuff. After going through a lot of them, I just want to live a normal life again,” says Felixson
The 19-year-old blue-liner was in the midst of his second season in Saint John, adjusting to life in Canada and bonding with his teammates. Then he noticed his energy fading.
“He showed me this spot under his arm. He was wondering if he got hit hard, or something like that,” says Felixson’s former defence partner Bailey Webster. “I just said, 'Maybe you blocked a shot, maybe it was a puck,' because that was the kind of stuff we were doing. Then he got another one up on his shoulder.”
Felixson says his scariest moment was when he went for his first scan after undergoing seven rounds of treatment.
“I had the first scan and nothing had happened. That was pretty scary because you never know if they work and how they work,” he says.
Plans to watch his teammates compete for the Memorial Cup were quickly put on hold as Felixson's treatment escalated. But longtime Sea Dogs equipment manager David Kelly, who is also battling a rare form thyroid cancer, made sure there was always a space for the sidelined defenceman.
Throughout the playoffs, Kelly continued to set up Felixson's stall. The team also brought his jersey on the ice when they captured the President's Cup.
The touching gesture led to Felixson's nameplate being displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“We just had him everywhere we went," says Webster. “He was always part of the team and he was always in our thoughts and prayers. He's still part of the team today and I'm thinking about him all the time.”
Just before Christmas, Felixson heard the two words that changed everything once more: cancer free.
“It felt amazing,” he says. “Just a total weight off my shoulders.”
Felixson is now focusing on the things he cares about most: Xbox with his former teammates, preparing for school exams, and eventually, a return to hockey.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Cami Kepke.