Dave Noordam has always been drawn to Vancouver Canucks with character.
His fandom began at a young age, right around the time Trevor Linden was drafted to the Canucks. Noordam, who was born and raised in Abbottsford, BC, remembers reading that Linden skipped the Canucks pre-draft testing because he was helping his dad with branding day on the family farm.
Noordam was eight years old then and he's 40 now, yet still a fan of character players. Bo Horvat is his top choice these days, followed closely by Elias Pettersson - two players who display character in different ways in helping form Vancouver's young core.
Covid-19 and many events of 2020 have tested everyone's character. Some more than others.
Noordam has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma cancer twice this year; his battles are shaping his character, changing his life and redefining him as a man.
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In February of this year, Noordam noticed a stubborn canker sore in his mouth that just wouldn't go away. Doctors discovered it was in fact cancer in his cheek and he had surgery to remove it at the end of February. Mid-March, Noordam was told he was in the clear: he was cancer free!
At the end of June, Dave and wife Jenelle, who had been married for seven years and already had a three-year-old son named Jesse, welcomed their second son into the world, Jeremiah.
The joy Noordam felt over the arrival of his new son quickly diminished a few weeks later. While shaving one morning, Noordam felt a lump in the lymph node in his throat. A biopsy revealed his cancer had returned, and shortly after Noordam once again had surgery to remove the cancer. The cancerous lymph node had ruptured forcing doctors to remove an additional 78 lymph nodes in his neck, one hidden behind a nerve that was cut and then reattached. Noordam lost partial movement in his right shoulder and now has partial paralysis on his face as well.
"If I survive, that's minor stuff," said Noordam, during a phone interview mid-November.
Keeping things in perspective hasn't been an issue for Noordam, who turns to his wife and two amazing children for support whenever he needs a reminder of what he's fighting for.
Canucks fans have also been supporting Noordam along his cancer battle, which includes lengthy chemotherapy and daily radiation (in a cozy, custom Canucks no. 40 hoodie!) that began mid-October. Before his first surgery in February, Noordam connected with Andrew Walker, host of The Program on Sportsnet 650, who invited the avid listener and Canucks fan for a tour of the studio. The two stayed in touch over the summer and after Noordam had surgery for a second time, Walker had him on as a guest during a Canucks post-game show following a Vancouver 4-3 win over St. Louis in Game 5 of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After Noordam shared his thoughts on Vancouver's effort, he shared his own courageous story, which fellow Canucks fan Tej Dhaliwal (host of The LarschCast on Sportsnet 650) heard and took action on. Dhaliwal started a GoFundMe page for Noordam, which has raised over $11,000 from 197 donors since the beginning of September.
Noordam, an inventory supervisor, has only been able to work part-time for most of 2020, but with a family to support, he was having trouble making ends meet. The funds raised through GoFundMe have given the family some breathing room and provided a means to pay for three-year-old Jesse to attend daycare a few days during the week, giving dad and mom time and space to focus on themselves and Jeremiah.
With more time off work likely needed for Noordam to fully recover from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the GoFundMe support has left the family feeling very grateful.
"Thank you," said Noordam, asked what he wanted to say to those donating to him, or simply thinking about and praying for him. "We appreciate everything that we receive. I do feel blessed. The love and support and prayers we've been receiving, they do give me a lot of strength and motivation to keep on fighting. I really, really appreciate that."
Click here if you're able to support Noordam in his battle with cancer, or follow him on Twitter at @DaveNoordam. You'll know it's him simply by reading the bio: "I'm a cancer fighter. I beat it once and I will again."
We're behind you Dave!