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Hockey Fights Cancer

Oshie of Capitals shares 'kindred spirit' with cancer patient

9-year-old Addy Flint attends practice, spends time with favorite player

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Despite the circumstances, this was a good day for Addy Flint.

The 9-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, was tired after having chemotherapy for kidney cancer Monday, but she had no problem finding the energy to attend Washington Capitals practice and spend some time with her favorite player, forward T.J. Oshie, on Tuesday.

"I feel like he's sort of like a friend now more than just a hockey player," Flint said.

Flint and Oshie met a year ago when the Capitals hosted children from Make-A-Wish's Mid-Atlantic chapter for a Hockey Fights Cancer skate. Each of the Capitals' 23 players, coach Barry Trotz and owner Ted Leonsis were paired with a Make-A-Wish participant.

Oshie was paired with Flint and a friendship was forged. Flint, who was diagnosed in March 2013 when she was 4, was in remission at the time, but the cancer returned in June. Oshie kept in touch with Flint's family over the past year and was sad to hear that she relapsed.

"I've emailed back and forth with her mom and try to keep tabs on her," Oshie said. "It's terrible what she has to go through again."

 

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With Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month beginning League-wide on Wednesday, Oshie and the Capitals invited Flint to practice. She will also attend the Capitals game against the New York Islanders on their Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at Capital One Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, MSG+, NHL.TV) and will participate in this year's Hockey Fights Cancer skate Friday.

Dariush Namin, an 11-year-old Make-A-Wish child from Bethesda, Maryland, will attend Capitals practice Wednesday and drop the puck for a ceremonial face-off before the game Thursday. Namin will also be on the ice for the skate Friday.

Flint's smile Tuesday was evidence of the positive impact such events can have.

"Her getting to see T.J. and watch the Caps practice is really inspirational for her," Addy's mother, Stacey Flint, said. "She mentioned how it kind of allows her to look forward to something. She's been determined to be healthy today as well as it kind of gives her something fun to remember when there are kind of the rough times."

Unfortunately, Addy Flint has had too many of those since June. She is halfway through a cycle of 10 rounds of chemotherapy and has already had 12 abdominal radiation treatments. Unable to eat solid foods, she's required intravenous feeding for the past four weeks. Stacey Flint said she will probably have to continue intravenous feeding for another three months.

She's had surgery seven times, including three since her relapse, with one more to come.

"She's a very tough kid," Stacey Flint said. "And she's both a tough kid, super brave, but also has this amazing light about her where she just bounces right back and is like, 'OK. I'm happy. Let's go do something fun.'"

Video: Gulitti talks Hockey Fights Cancer initiative

Tuesday definitely qualified as something fun. Oshie greeted Flint with a big hug and then the two sat down and talked like old friends. 

Oshie asked about Flint's plans for Halloween -- she was to go trick-or-treating dressed as Mal from the Descendants -- and how school is going. Flint said school was "kind of bad because I miss so much of it."

Flint asked how the Capitals season has been going so far and wanted Oshie to predict how the game will go Thursday.

"I think the score is going to be 4-2," Oshie said. "We're going to win."

Flint attended two games during Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month last season and Oshie scored a goal in each of them. He hopes she can be his good luck charm again Thursday. Flint plans to wear her lucky ladybug earrings.  

"You've got to bring me some luck," Oshie said. "I'm on a cold streak right now."

Oshie hasn't scored a goal in his past four games and has one in his past seven, so Flint would love for him to break out Thursday. 

"He's my favorite player because he's kind, caring, cares about other people, very tough on the ice," Flint said.

Stacey Flint believes her daughter and Oshie have that toughness in common, along with their love of having fun.

"I think they have a kindred spirit in the fact that they both can be really tough and really brave, and then also have fun and be light and happy." she said.

Oshie and his wife, Lauren, have two daughters -- Lyla, 3, and Leni, 1 -- so his connection with Flint feels natural to him.

"It's the hardest thing I can imagine as a parent to watch your kid go through.," he said. "It hits home a little more because I've got two girls of my own, but a lot of it is just Addy's personality and just who she is. She's fun to hang out with and I'm excited to see her."

It was the highlight of the day for Flint, who was headed to get her implanted chemotherapy port checked following her meeting with Oshie.

"I'm kind of upset because after this my mom is taking me to clinic because I have to get my [port] fixed," she said. "That's the sad part, but before it was the happy part, so it's worth it."

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