Sharks’ Oskar Lindblom shares his harrowing journey battling cancer

  • Programming Note: Watch an excerpt of Oskar Lindblom’s interview Thursday at 7:00 p.m. PT during “Sharks Pregame Live” on NBC Sports California.

Life is incredibly unpredictable, as Sharks forward Oskar Lindblom can attest.

Speaking to NBC Sports for Headstrong: Mental Health and Sports, the 26-year-old opened up about his journey battling cancer and how he first learned of his diagnosis in December 2019 as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I didn’t feel anything wrong, like I felt good,” Lindblom said. “Then a lump on my chest got bigger and I thought I got hit and I thought it was a bruise that got big because we play all the time, right?”

The forward revealed he was not initially examined as he thought it was just a normal injury. However, at the urging of his girlfriend Alma Lindqvist, Lindblom went for a check-up a few days later to calm her nerves.

Lindblom recalls getting a call back from the doctor before he flew to Colorado. Instead, he was told to fly back to Philadelphia to see his doctors and discuss the test results.

During this time, Lindblom said he felt like he was in a “black room” and was sad, trying to figure out what was going on.

Speaking to his doctors, Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of tumor that forms from a specific type of cell in bone or soft tissue.

Typically, Ewing’s sarcoma begins in the lower extremities, but can also occur in other parts of the body, including the chest, abdomen, and other extremities. Children and teenagers are more likely to develop Ewing’s sarcoma, but it can happen at any age, as Lindblom was 23 when he was diagnosed.

After consulting with an Ewing sarcoma specialist in Philadelphia, a treatment plan was devised: Lindblom would have to undergo six months of chemotherapy, followed by three months of surgery to get rid of the cancerous piece of bone.

Lindblom’s body responded well to the chemotherapy and after two months of treatment, the cancer seemed to go away. Despite the progress, Lindblom still describes the situation as “scary” and tried his best to stay sane.

“…I was excited even though I was feeling really bad and was trying to go outside to exercise and go for walks and anything to take my mind off the treatment and look forward to my normal life,” Lindblom recalled.

Lindblom’s treatment hit a bump during the COVID-19 pandemic. The forward credits Lindqvist with staying focused and determined, likening the experience to a season in the NHL where he just ran to the finish line.

“I mean the days I was doing treatments like you were sitting in a chair for 5-6 hours just pumping chemo, so those days were tough,” Lindblom said. “I think if you try to look at it as a game, like a season, how more games you play, you’re getting closer to the end and maybe playing the playoffs, so you’re just trying to come through and push through, and luckily I did it and I’m happy.”

When Lindblom was finally done with his treatment, he rang the bell at Pennsylvania Hospital’s Abramson Center, a moment he said was “awesome” and gave him “goosebumps.”

“I mean, just walking through this and that hospital and seeing all the nurses that were by my side and helping me and being able to ring that bell was a crazy day,” continued Lindblom. “I can’t really — like you thought about it before, but it felt so far away the whole time, so when that day came, it was incredible.”

When he finally returned to the ice and was showered with affection from fans, Lindblom called the moment “special.”

“I mean you feel so loved and you’re back on the ice and you’re doing what you love and you see all the fans and they’re cheering for you so I can’t thank them enough for doing this for me and always will remember,” added Lindblom.

In his final season with the Flyers, Lindblom won the 2020-21 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The trophy is awarded annually to the player “who best embodies the qualities of endurance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey”.

All in all, Lindblom’s message to those dealing with their own cancer is to speak up to those around you, as things will inevitably change.

“Try to be close with people: friends, family, whoever could help,” Lindblom said. “It’s helped me a lot, even though my family used to be on the phone with someone at home helps a lot, so try to distract yourself a little.”

RELATED: Standing ovation reveals indelible bond between Lindblom and Philly

Lindblom spent five seasons with the Flyers before signing a two-year contract with the Sharks. For fans in the NHL, Lindblom’s journey has been one of inspiration and triumph.

No matter how unpredictable life may be, Lindblom’s perseverance and determination proved that anything is possible.

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can be reached at any time by phone or text at 9-8-8.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *