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PRINCIPE: David vs. Goliath

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers

It is just one word. It has two syllables. It is only 6 letters in length. It uses five letters with 'c' being used twice. It doesn't sound like much until you hear it said. There are few words in the English vocabulary that make as direct an impact as this one does. It's an attention grabber and a conversation stopper. It's impossible to hear it and not pause for thought on what it means and more importantly what effect it has had on your life or on those around you. The word is 'cancer'.

A word you never want to hear sitting in a doctor's office or for that matter anywhere else. Especially when it's being directed at you. Brandon Davidson knows what that feels like. In the short time it takes to say it Davidson's world, just as quickly, was turned upside down. For the all the ways to describe a 21 year old, that shouldn't be one of them. Way too young to have cancer enter the conversation. It could have hit him like a Mack truck or maybe he had to ask a second or third time for the doctor to repeat it. Either way his life had taken a drastic change for the worse. What else is there to believe when you go from a player to a patient in a few seconds or less?

It was 2012. Brandon Davidson was starting to live out his dream of being a professional hockey player. He was playing in Oklahoma City. A 2010 Edmonton draft pick who wrapped up his junior career by wearing a 'C' that stands for something special as the captain of the Regina Pats. Then the game of hockey took a back seat to the game of life. Testicular cancer is what Brandon Davidson had. What he also had was an amazing attitude to take on the toughest opponent he had ever faced. It was with courage, dignity and desire to get healthy that the journey began for the defenceman. With support from the Oilers organization, his Baron teammates, friends, family and those he didn't know but knew him Davidson went after the biggest win of his young life. It wasn't easy. There were dark days and nights when he might have been overwhelmed by the challenge but he never gave up. Instead it was cancer that gave in. He was proclaimed cancer free.

Davidson made his NHL debut Wednesday night in Anaheim
It may be gone, but it's not forgotten. Davidson undergoes blood work and a body scan every six months. Soon it will move to a yearly occurrence. If all continues to go well then it will be an examination every 5 years. It is the recovery process of a person whose body was stricken by cancer. From the first time I met Brandon I always thought he looked like a hockey player. Tall, broad shoulders, strong arms, chiseled jaw. He just looked like someone who should be playing the game. Wednesday night, he was. In fact, his first NHL game. A promotion from the AHL to the NHL warranted by his development. A 'feel good' story that must have made everyone who knows him burst with pride and I'm sure a few tears of joy.

He made it. A dream come true after a medical nightmare. Enjoy it because you earned it. He never planned on it but Brandon Davidson has become a hero, a role model and more importantly a cancer survivor who just happens to play in the NHL.
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