Former NHLer Olczyk hopes to encourage others after battling colon most cancers


“How lengthy do I’ve?”

Eddie Olczyk suspected one thing was mistaken that summer time of 2017. He had gone days being constipated, exams had been performed and surgical procedure ordered after a tumour, the dimensions of his fist, was found and eliminated.

Olczyk, who spent 16 seasons within the NHL and was a first-round (third general) draft alternative of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1984, realized he had Stage three colon most cancers on Aug. four, 2017, after medical doctors eliminated 14 inches of his colon.

So many ideas raced by Olczyk’s thoughts that day, together with how a lot time remained in his life, figuring a most cancers prognosis correlated to a demise sentence. Considered one of his three sons was getting married a 12 months to the day later, Olczyk vowing to be current to stroll him down the aisle.


Ed Olczyk along with his new guide Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life, which chronicles his time within the NHL and his battle with colon most cancers.

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“It was a psychological nightmare. It exams your will to stay,” Olczyk, an NBCSN broadcaster, mentioned by phone from St. Louis, the place he was getting ready for Wednesday’s sport between the Blues and Philadelphia.

“I used to be scared, however I wasn’t anxious,” he added. “I didn’t need to die, however I (ultimately) turned very a lot at peace going by the battle. Once I was going by it, truthfully, it was okay. If one thing occurs, I’m going to take care of it and I’m at peace. In the event that they got here to me and mentioned it’s time … you’ve had 51 years on this earth and achieved loads. In the event that they instructed me it’s my time, I used to be okay with that. I feel that helped me.

“A very powerful folks in my life have all the time recognized how I felt about them. I used to be all the time very delicate to that. I instructed them: ‘God forbid, you recognize what you imply to me. If one thing had been to occur, you’ve made my life full’.”

Olczyk, like so many others, found most cancers doesn’t discriminate. A strapping 6-foot-1, 200-pounder when he turned the primary U.S.-born participant chosen within the opening spherical of the NHL draft by his hometown Blackhawks, he turned simply one other man, sitting in hospital rooms awaiting remedy, one more sufferer of this crippling illness.

“All of us have sufficient quiet time to final us a lifetime,” he mentioned. “And whenever you’re battling this illness, there’s a number of quiet time.”

Medical doctors prescribed six months of chemotherapy, 12 therapies in complete each two weeks lasting 48 hours. Olczyk went to hospital for the primary injection, then was despatched house the place he would administer the subsequent dose.

His first aspect impact was neuropathy, which affected his fingers and toes. There have been nostril bleeds, horrible complications and vomiting. Olczyk couldn’t management his bladder and misplaced chunks of hair, whereas his weight elevated drastically because of the steroids he took.

The final time he obtained on the dimensions, hoping it wouldn’t register 250 kilos, Olczyk weighed 249.2. He breathed a sigh of aid.

“ the drugs’s attempting that can assist you, however it’s a fairly deadly injection,” he mentioned. “There’s nothing straightforward about taking chemo.”

Whereas present process therapies, and with the assistance of journalist Perry Lefko, a former Toronto Solar sportswriter, Olczyk launched a guide three months in the past — Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life, wherein he shares a few of his innermost ideas and particulars of his battle in opposition to most cancers.

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He was initially reluctant to turn into concerned within the undertaking, which lasted 16 months, however realized it was therapeutic to speak about it and hoped he may encourage others going by related battles. Olczyk was the NHL’s Hockey Fights Most cancers ambassador in November.

“I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to let folks know the way I felt, how I obtained by it,” he mentioned. “If I will help encourage one individual in any stroll of their life … if I can carry hope to any person, it was nicely price me telling my story.”

Within the guide, Olczyk talks about how he was bullied as a baby; his ascension to the NHL as an 18-year-old rookie; the night time he was traded from Toronto to Winnipeg as his spouse was about to offer start to their second youngster. His profession, throughout which he had 342 targets and 794 factors, spanned 1,031 video games for six groups. He was a part of one Stanley Cup championship, in 1994, with the New York Rangers, however performed sparingly underneath head coach Mike Keenan.

Retirement discovered Olczyk teaching the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Mario Lemieux, for parts of two seasons. He’s a color commentator for the NHL on NBC and for Blackhawks video games on NBC Sports activities Chicago and WGN-TV. He’s additionally a part of NBC’s Triple Crown horse-racing protection. Nationwide commitments prevented Olczyk from being in Montreal for Wednesday night time’s sport between the Canadiens and Blackhawks.

Most cancers-free for nearly two years, Olczyk sees his physician each three months and is getting ready for a C-scan in March. He feels robust, wholesome and rejuvenated, however the concern of most cancers returning by no means strays removed from his thoughts.

“It’s sadly going to be with me the remainder of my life, no matter what they inform me,” he mentioned. “You’re all the time going to be apprehensive whenever you go to the hospital. You’re all the time going to be scared. You must have optimistic ideas, preserve believing and praying. And preserve dwelling. It’s a marathon.”

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

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