Dr. Colleen McEvoy's phone lit up with text messages and phone calls from friends last November saying she had to go check out the Blues' Instagram ASAP.
"They all said 'Oh my God, Ryan O'Reilly is on there talking about you!'" McEvoy recalled.
When McEvoy opened Instagram, she saw a personal message from the Blues captain that said: "We know you're strong and you have a wonderful family to fight this battle alongside you. On behalf of myself and the entire Blues team, we wish you the best and we will stand beside you as you continue your fight."
The message was incredibly uplifting to McEvoy, who just two months earlier was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer and was going through an aggressive 16-round chemotherapy treatment. And to make matters worse, COVID-19 protocols prevented her from having visitors during treatments - including from her husband, Andrew Martin, and two sons, Declan and Brennan - so O'Reilly's video came at the perfect time.
"I saw the video and I felt like a little kid, I was so uplifted," McEvoy told stlouisblues.com. "A lot of people reached out and it was just really positive. His kindness and genuineness was really remarkable. It meant a lot."
Video: O'Reilly shares personal message for Dr. McEvoy
Although she considers herself to be a hospital patient now, McEvoy also has experience on the other side of the medical field. She has worked in the oncology intensive care unit for Barnes Jewish Hospital as a pulmonary and critical care physican since 2014, and when the COVID-19 pandemic began, she played a key role on the hospital's COVID Critical Care Task Force that helped shape the policies and guidance for caring for patients that had contracted the virus.
Between caring for cancer patients and the chaos that a new pandemic brought with it, McEvoy remembered feeling a mass in one of her breasts in July but didn't think too much about it at first.
"In August, I finally got it checked out, and I was seeing patients in our oncology ICU the next Monday when I got the phone call that I had breast cancer," McEvoy said. "I went back and saw five more patients that day before I went home. It was a little bit rough. Shortly thereafter, I started chemotherapy. I had 16 rounds and took about a month off to let my body recover. I ended up needing a double mastectomy and reconstruction."
Video: McEvoy rings the bell at Siteman Cancer Center
Recently, McEvoy rang the bell at Siteman Cancer Center to signify the end of her chemotherapy treatment. She's got a long road ahead, though, as she gets ready to begin radiation soon.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time throughout this whole process," McEvoy said. "Ringing that bell signaled the end of chemotherapy, and because that was so hard and rough, I was incredibly proud to finish that part of my journey. I knew if I could get through chemo I could get through the rest of it.
"I think things look good for the future," she added. "I'm incredibly confident in my treatment plan with Siteman Cancer Center. I'm confident I'll be back at work soon caring for critically ill oncology patients and able to pay it forward."
McEvoy will be a guest of the Blues at Monday's Hockey Fights Cancer game. The team is raising money and awareness for cancer research at both the April 5 and 7 games. As part of the annual initiative, the players will wear special Hockey Fights Cancer warm-up jerseys on Monday, and the jerseys will be auctioned beginning April 5 online at blues.givesmart.com. In addition, the team will sell autographed Hockey Fights Cancer pucks online at STLAuthentics.com. Proceeds from jersey and puck sales will benefit Siteman Cancer Center and Blues for Kids, which contributes to cancer care for not-for-profit organizations in the St. Louis area.