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Hockey Fights Cancer

Davidson opens up about cancer fight with support from Canadiens

Defenseman loves 'telling my story' to help educate people, raise awareness

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- As a cancer survivor, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson is willing to bare his soul to help raise awareness about the disease.

Tears flowed down Davidson's cheeks and words came out haltingly when he sat in the Canadiens dressing room while battling to express how he continues to be haunted by his fight with testicular cancer five years ago.

"I worry about it all the time," Davidson said. "It's always on my mind. I think I fear it more than anything. But yeah, I'm going to always worry about it, for sure."

 

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Davidson said he has had no setbacks and remains cancer-free in his recovery since going through chemotherapy after having his testicle surgically removed in October 2012.

"All my tests have come back great year after year, and I just keep praying that it always does," Davidson said.

It speaks volumes about the 26-year-old cancer survivor's character that he is willing to expose his own vulnerability so that he might help someone else face their fears.

"I love telling my story," Davidson said. "I know things get emotional sometimes, but I really do like educating people, telling my story and making sure that everybody's aware. And if my story can help bring funds to help cancer research, I mean, that's huge. That's everything for me."

Davidson is particularly touched that November is Hockey Fights Cancer awareness month in the NHL.

"This is a big month for me," Davidson said. "I think I feel the support from everywhere, and I'm just glad I can kind of go through this month and have these guys with me because it is a tough month for me, and just something I hold dear to my heart. But I think that sometimes it brings out some emotions for sure. So I couldn't be in a better place than I am right now, and I think that the Montreal Canadiens and the guys in this dressing room are really next to none."

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel was among the members of the hockey family who reached out to offer their support after Davidson received his diagnosis at the outset of his first professional season in the Edmonton Oilers organization.

"I think that just says a lot about our league," Davidson said. "I think that's it not just about hockey, we're a hockey family. I think that we all stick up for each other, and that was one of those situations, just like (New Jersey Devils forward) Brian Boyle is in right now, where helping hands get reached out."

Kessel, who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs at that time, had testicular cancer as a 19-year-old rookie with the Boston Bruins in 2006.

"It was huge for me that I could feel that support," Davidson said. "But it was just a small gesture that he made and it was really something that I'll never forget."

Goalie Devan Dubnyk, whose family was affected by cancer while he was with the Oilers, also reached out to offer Davidson his support.

"I unfortunately had to go through it with my mom when I was a teenager, and so it hits close to home when someone you know goes through that," said Dubnyk, now playing for the Minnesota Wild. "But more than anything, it's so surprising when you hear about such a young kid, so it's amazing to see how he battled it and how tough he was through it. I love seeing him doing well and seeing him out on the ice after going through something like that."

Every time Davidson steps on the ice he carries the inspiration of his grandmother Dorothy Davidson, who died of lung cancer at the age of 69 in 2011 when he was 19.

"Growing up, we lived on a farm and her farm was right next to ours," Davidson said. "My dad worked in an oil patch, my mom worked at a bank, and grandma and grandpa took care of us. And so mom and day were working, which they were a lot of the time, so I was raised by her and she's my inspiration, and still is now. She's the name on my hockey sticks. I still pray for her before every hockey game."

And Davidson has enjoyed the support of his teammates while heading up the Canadiens' Movember team this year, a daunting responsibility considering Montreal's first leader in the men's health fundraising effort was George Parros, now the head of the NHL Department of Player Safety.

"Yeah, no kidding, that is the mustache," Davidson said. "We've got a few good contenders on our team right now. I think Joe Morrow, kind of the big old handlebars, and Jeff Petry's got quite the Ned Flanders one on. So, I mean, it's a great cause and I loved to see the guys jump on board."

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