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Hockey Fights Cancer

Lindblom aiding others ahead of Hockey Fights Cancer Night for Flyers

Nearly two years after diagnosis, forward shares positive message with those dealing with disease

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Oskar Lindblom said he chooses to look forward to his promising future but understands his past remains a huge part of his story.

The Philadelphia Flyers forward is coming up on two years since he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, on Dec. 10, 2019. His time dealing with the disease, and his eventual return to playing during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, resonated far beyond what the 25-year-old thought possible.

"I don't want to look back too much on what I went through," he said. "But of course it's an everyday process, someone texting me asking for advice or something else, so it's always a reminder. But at the same time, I feel good, and if I can be someone that people can look at, I went through it and give them a good vibe or something like that, it's just a good feeling."

Video: Oskar's Fight

The support Lindblom received from teammates, opposing players and fans helped him persevere through surgery and months of chemotherapy. He said he feels it's his responsibility to pay that support forward.

Some of that will come when he helps the Flyers celebrate Hockey Fights Cancer Night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, NBCSP, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

But his work extends further than one day on the schedule. For the second season in a row, Lindblom received permission from the NHL to wear a lavender ribbon decal on the back of his helmet all season to show support for those dealing with cancer and their families.

He also sends out more personal messages as often as he can.

"I'm trying to reach out to as many as possible," Lindblom said. "Me and (Flyers senior director of communications) Zack Hill will try to do pictures sometimes, or a video to guys reaching out. It's tough to do them all, but as long as I can do it for some guys and help them, otherwise I'm just trying to go through my own social platforms and bring some good energy for people."

Video: TBL@PHI: Lindblom back on Hockey Fights Cancer Night

Among those touched by Lindblom was the Lomazoff family. Matthew Lomazoff was 31 years old when he died July 3, 2020, eight years after being diagnosed with brain cancer. It was one day after Lindblom rang a ceremonial bell to commemorate the completion of his cancer treatments.

Matthew and his older brother, Gregg, were Flyers fans, and Gregg had worn a Lindblom jersey to games in honor of his brother. After Matthew died, Gregg sent the jersey to the Flyers with the hope that Lindblom would sign it. He did, adding, "I fight for Matthew Lomazoff."

Gregg said the jersey is framed and hangs in the home of his parents, Howard and Lynn, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The NHL COVID-19 protocol prevented Lindblom from personally presenting the jersey to Gregg and his parents, but he sent a message through Hill to the family.

"That meant everything to my parents," Gregg said. "They were bawling their eyes out. ... To take the time to do something like that, it meant a lot to my family. It meant an absolute lot to my family. You see somebody on his stage and they care about your son, it touches them and it means a lot."

Lindblom said the positivity he has given to others has meant as much to him as any on-ice success.

"I think the best part is when you send something, say to a small kid, and after a couple months you get a new message, they went through it all and they feel better, that's the best feeling ever," he said. "I get chills just thinking about it. That's such a huge thing in life. So many people get affected from it. So when you see someone go through it and come out on the right side, it's awesome."

The Lomazoff family is one of many Lindblom has reached out to.

"I think that he understands the significance, that he is almost like a voice now," Hill said. "Because people respect him. Ewing's sarcoma is a pretty rare and a pretty aggressive cancer, and for him to overcome it, I think he realizes that he needs to spread the message that there's hope."

As much as his words matter, Lindblom also wants his play to inspire. He scored 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 50 games last season and admitted he wasn't at his best. This season, his fifth in the NHL, he has one assist in 13 games. Lindblom said he feels stronger and closer to the player who was tied for the Philadelphia lead with 11 goals in 30 games to start 2019-20.

"First couple of games played here I'm feeling way better," said Lindblom, who has been free of cancer since December 2020. "My body is reacting good, and now it's only the last part, getting the confidence back and putting the puck in the net. But I feel like that's going to come because I have so many chances. As long as I keep working and getting better, it's going to be better for me."

Flyers fans have shown they believe in him. The ovation Lindblom received at a sold-out Wells Fargo Center on opening night Oct. 15 was among the loudest received by any player.

"I feel like I'm getting so much love from the fans," he said. "Even though I haven't been the best on the ice like I played before, but still they always stay for me and always give me love, so I can't thank them enough for what they've done for me. I'm going to love them for the rest of my life."

And he's returning the fans' love with a simple message: You can beat cancer, and things can get better.

"You just have to try and go through it with a positive mind and hopefully you're going to come out on the right side," Lindblom said. "Can't think about what's going to happen next. You just have to go through it and have people around you that's giving you positive energy. I think that's the only thing you can do."

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