Saturday, May 27, 2017

{allcanada} Craig Anderson of Senators says wife is cancer-free


OTTAWA -- Nicholle Anderson, the wife of Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, is cancer-free, he said Saturday.

Nicholle was diagnosed in October with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of throat cancer. The couple received the good news after tests this week, Craig Anderson said.

"She did a PET scan and MRIs, and as of right now everything is clean and we'll just cross our fingers," he said. "We've got to do scans, I think, every three months. As of right now, things are positive, but you're not out of the woods yet until you get, I think, two years of cancer-free news."

Anderson said Nicholle gave him the results Thursday morning before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, which the Senators lost 3-2 in the second overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Her message: "Things are going in the right direction ... go out there and have fun."

Anderson on Saturday described the season as a "roller coaster."

"Ups and downs emotionally, physically," he said. "I think a lot of life lessons learned this year not only by myself, but staff and players, all together.

"Hockey is a job for us and it put it in perspective this year. I think we played better because we realized life happens and you make the most of your opportunity when you have a group that we all cared about so much together in this room. It makes you maybe play a little bit better and care about each other a little bit more."

Anderson left the Senators on Oct. 27 to be with Nicholle but at her urging returned to the team after his replacement, Andrew Hammond, was injured in a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Oct. 28.

In his first game back, Anderson made 37 saves in a 2-0 shutout against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 30.

"I wanted to stay with her," Anderson said. "It was the unknown. We didn't know what the extent of anything was. If the cancer was life-threatening and she had three months to live, I would have felt horrible going back. It kind of worked out. We didn't know. She insisted that I go back, that my hockey family needed me. We were with her family in Pennsylvania. She had her family. She had some support, which was huge, and allowed me to go back."

Anderson took a two-month leave of absence beginning in early December and returned in February to help lead the Senators to within one goal of the Stanley Cup Final.

He was 11-8 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 19 playoff games.

He said he feels changed by the experience.

"One hundred percent," he said. "We always grow as players. When you go through adversity it's not what happens to you, it's how you react. I think we all responded in the right way.

"I was able to use hockey and use my teammates as a source to get away from personal life and have a three-hour moment of peace. When you're on the ice, there's nothing in the world but that puck and you're competing. You're at peace. You have nothing to worry about. That was the three hours that I had, and then you go back to life right after."

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