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Hockey Fights Cancer

Anderson, Hayes share cancer fights with NHL Network

Senators goalie's wife, Devils forward among those hoping to educate, raise awareness

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Awareness. That's why.

The NHL Network this week will begin running interviews with Nicholle Anderson, the wife of Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson; Diana Davidson, the wife of Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson; New Jersey Devils forward Jimmy Hayes; and Craig Snider, son of the late Philadelphia Flyers owner and founder Ed Snider.

 

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The common thread between all four is cancer. They either had it or had a parent or parents who had it.

With November being Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness month in the NHL, Anderson, Davidson, Hayes and Snider all agreed to come to NHL Network studios to tell their stories, with the hope that someone watching will listen, take notice and, if necessary, act.

The interviews will run during NHL Now, NHL Network's weekday pregame show (4-6 p.m. ET).

"I had early detection and that's so important to me, to get the awareness out there and get people to pay attention," said Diana Davidson, a competitive CrossFit athlete who was diagnosed with breast cancer more than four years ago. She was saved from chemotherapy because the disease was caught early.

"When I was first detected, I was determined to tell my story," she continued. "Some people have their own way of dealing with it, but I really wanted to get my story out there because of the awareness and the early detection. I do jump at the opportunity to get it out there."

Video: Nicholle Anderson on her cancer fight, work with NHL

Anderson, a Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador for the NHL, said she wants to tell viewers that they can and should be their own advocates.

"If there is something wrong, go get it checked out," she said. "If you can be your own advocate, check yourself, do everything you can do.

"Something that I thought was a sinus infection, for it to be cancer, it's an eye-opener. It can happen to anybody."

Anderson was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of throat cancer, in October 2016. She was declared cancer-free May 25, but will go for a scan every three months for the next two years and every six months after that until she is cancer-free for five years.

Her last round of chemotherapy was in April. Her next scan will be in January.

"I went through the nasopharyngeal and three of my friends were diagnosed with breast cancer," Anderson said. "Even though I didn't have breast cancer, I'm telling everybody to make sure they check themselves and tell your friends to check themselves."

Anderson said learning about Hockey Fights Cancer has been eye-opening. She also wants to let people know what it means to her.

"Hockey Fights Cancer two years ago was this month where we did fundraisers in Ottawa to support Hockey Fights Cancer," Anderson said. "But when you walk the walk and you understand it, now you understand where all the funding needs to go. People will say they're raising money for cancer, but now that you understand the behind-the-scenes things, places to live, that people are losing their jobs and can't support themselves, you see where to put the money, how to help, see what they need."

Hayes and Snider saw firsthand the needs of cancer patients and it was heart-wrenching. Hayes' mother, Shelagh, and his father, Kevin Sr., are cancer survivors. Snider's father died April 11, 2016 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 83.

"I think I can relate to a lot to kids," Hayes said.

Video: Jimmy Hayes talks about his experiences with cancer

Hayes was in fifth grade when his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was just beginning his NHL career when his father was diagnosed with throat cancer.

"It's having a kid watching the TV and seeing pro athletes advocating this cause, giving them something to relate to, maybe they reach out if they want to. It's just bringing the awareness and the comfort level for someone to reach out. They can see, 'It's not just me.' And then they can hear about success stories too."

Hayes said the awareness of cancer in his family has required him to go for tests early in his life. For example, he said he will have to get a colonoscopy before he's 30 years old. Hayes turns 28 on Nov. 21.

"Luckily I haven't suffered it, but having two people that mean the world to me go through it, showing their success, how they beat it, how I can be there for somebody, especially a young kid, that's what it's about," Hayes said. "It's being able to help anybody through the process. I can be a source for anyone if they ever wanted to have a conversation about it. But there's nothing better than getting the news that your parents are cancer-free."

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