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Hockey Fights Most cancers: Stelio Mattheos’ Journey

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“The phrases we have been ready to say for thus lengthy … for the primary time in franchise historical past, the Charlotte Checkers are Calder Cup champions!” Jason Shaya’s radio play-by-play name was uncooked and emotional as celebratory pandemonium ensued on the ice in Rosemont, Sick., on June eight.The Checkers have been kings of the American Hockey League, and Stelio Mattheos was on prime of the world.After which, simply two days later, he wasn’t.***Mattheos, then 19, joined the Checkers in March following the conclusion of his third season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, by which he ranked fourth within the Western Hockey League in targets (44) and sixth in factors (96).He performed in 11 video games for Charlotte down the stretch of the common season and recorded a pair of targets and an help. He skated in one other 14 video games within the Calder Cup Playoffs, registering three targets and one help.”It was implausible. We had an amazing group,” Mattheos stated. “I had an unbelievable time going there and becoming a member of the group late. We ended up profitable, and it was loopy.”However, there have been just a few nagging considerations. Mattheos skilled some ache whereas strolling within the airport through the finals. In the course of the morning skate previous to the decisive Sport 5, he discovered himself in need of breath.”One thing did not really feel proper,” he recalled. “I type of knew one thing was up.”The Checkers hosted a championship celebration in Charlotte on June 10. Mattheos placed on a courageous face and a smile, however behind closed locker room doorways, he had information to share along with his teammates.***The medical doctors first knowledgeable Mattheos that he would not be capable to play hockey for just a few months.”I did not know precisely why, however I keep in mind being upset,” he stated.Two days after profitable the Calder Cup and 4 days previous to his 20th birthday, Mattheos was identified with testicular most cancers.”Simply, shock,” he stated. “Concern for a bit, too. It is a scary phrase.”Mattheos was alone on the physician’s workplace however, as quickly as he walked out of the door, he known as his household.”You are simply serious about life and the whole lot. It is only a actually scary phrase to listen to,” he stated. “To be sincere, I do not even keep in mind precisely what I used to be pondering. It simply occurred actually quick.”Not even 48 hours separated probably the greatest moments of Mattheos’ life from one of many scariest. “It type of put the whole lot into perspective,” he stated. “It isn’t nearly hockey. It is about life.”***Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, in an essay for The Gamers’ Tribune, stated “the whole lot was actually a blur” when he obtained the identical analysis.Mattheos concurred. One evening he was enjoying within the Calder Cup Finals, and shortly after, hockey turned one in every of his least considerations. After consulting with physicians, Mattheos flew dwelling to Winnipeg and underwent surgical procedure to take away one testicle.Three rounds of chemotherapy adopted over the course of the summer time, however the excellent news was that Mattheos was anticipated to return to full well being.”It was an enormous grind, for positive, and a few very robust weeks. I wasn’t feeling my finest,” he stated. “I am sitting within the chair, IV hooked as much as me, wasn’t actually in a position to stroll round or something. I used to be there for 10 hours a day once I was in remedy. Seeing older folks in there, speaking to them, getting remedy with them, they have been telling me they’d been doing this for many years or folks telling me their most cancers wasn’t curable. It actually put issues into perspective that I used to be one of many fortunate ones in there, for positive.”Mattheos tried to stay energetic when he might, getting within the fitness center or hitting the ice for a light-weight skate.”It did not really feel like work. I simply wished to get out of the home,” he stated. “The medicine kill your crimson blood cells in your physique, and nonetheless they are not all again, and I keep in mind within the fitness center older folks flying previous me. I used to be similar to, ‘Wow, I’ve bought a protracted approach to go.'”And thru all of it, his teammates remained in contact, supporting him each step of the way in which.”I actually appreciated that all through the entire thing,” he stated. “It reveals how a lot character everybody has right here.””There are actually no phrases to explain that, proper? It is a struggle that pertains to everybody,” stated Haydn Fleury, who roomed with Mattheos through the Calder Cup Finals. “He wasn’t alone within the course of, and he is a younger child who has a shiny future forward of him.”***On Friday, Sept. 20, per week into Carolina Hurricanes’ coaching camp, the north-side doorways of the locker room opened, and Mattheos walked in, his hockey bag and sticks in tow.His Checkers teammates have been the primary to identify him. Fleury embraced him. So, too, did Julien Gauthier.”Actually cool. Actually blissful for him,” Fleury recalled of the second. “He fought all summer time. It was good to see him in coaching camp.”The following morning, Mattheos laced up his skates and bought on the PNC Area ice.”To get clearance and get again to doing what I like is a tremendous feeling. It is nice to see all my buddies and my teammates right here,” he smiled. “I am simply excited to place this behind me and play hockey once more.”Mattheos accomplished his comeback to hockey in early November, returning to the Checkers’ lineup for a weekend set in Cleveland.His story, although, continues to be solely starting.Mattheos, chosen by the Canes within the third spherical of the 2017 NHL Draft, aspires to sooner or later play within the Nationwide Hockey League, in fact. And as Hockey Fights Most cancers, so too will Mattheos proceed his struggle, having already conquered one in every of life’s greatest hurdles this previous summer time.”I simply need to be often called a hockey participant, a superb man who performs hockey. It is an enormous a part of my life. It was scary for a short while as a result of I did not know what precisely the longer term was going to carry, however now I am excited to be again,” he stated. “I am not going to doubt myself. I’ve made it this far. I do know it should be robust, however I am not going to surrender.”Video: Stelio’s Battle

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