‘Ottawa’ Vowing to be Positive, Nicholle and Craig Anderson Plan to Launch Cancer Foundation
Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson and his ailing wife, Nicholle, plan to launch a charitable cancer foundation this year as she continues to battle a rare form of head and neck cancer.
Nicholle Anderson conveyed the news in a New Year’s Day post on her blog, StickbyNik, which describes her diagnosis with nasopharyngeal cancer and her unfolding treatment at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
As part of Anderson’s aggressive treatment plan, she’s receiving radiation therapy (33 sessions) alongside chemotherapy. It is to be followed by three more rounds of chemotherapy over a 12-week period.
“As Craig and I have learned so much about cancer in 2016, we decided to create a cancer foundation,” Anderson writes in a Jan. 1 post. “We are excited to start and give back. We can’t wait to share details with everyone soon.”
The foundation is one of the “10 positive things” Anderson says she has drawn from 2016, a year that brought much heartbreak and anxiety.
“As I sit here and reflect on 2016, of course I would want to vent about all the things that went wrong,” she writes. “But where would that get me? It would only drain my energy and mind on things I cannot change.”
Instead, Anderson vows to take something positive from each day in 2017, to live in the moment, to complain less, to promote kindness and to strengthen her relationships.
In her blog, the mother of two young boys reveals her cancer journey began after a difficult miscarriage in late September. During her pregnancy, she says, she had experienced an odd constellation of cold-like symptoms, including nasal congestion, phlegm, night sweats and exhaustion. Her doctor prescribed an antibiotic.
“My lungs were clear and ears felt full,” Anderson writes. “The feeling was similar to when you fly on an airplane with constant ear popping.”
When the symptoms persisted into the late fall after the miscarriage, Anderson went to see a doctor in Pennsylvania, who recommended she have an ultrasound on the swollen lymph node in her neck. The results of the ultrasound suggested a biopsy should be performed.
An ear, nose and throat specialist discovered the lump in her neck was malignant, and he also found a mass behind Anderson’s nose, in the upper part of her throat. A subsequent biopsy confirmed the presence of nasopharyngeal cancer.
Anderson had travelled to Pennsylvania to visit her family and to attend chemotherapy sessions with a friend who was then undergoing treatment for breast cancer. “I never thought in a couple days from this point, I would be in the cancer club, too,” she writes.
Nasopharyngeal cancer is relatively rare in Canada and the United States. It’s more common in Asia and North Africa, and tends to affect men more than women.
Anderson’s type of nasopharyngeal cancer is rarer still and is linked to the Epstein-Barr virus — a common human virus that sometimes leads to mononucleosis or relatively mild childhood illnesses. Sometimes, however, the virus can remain dormant in people, and in rare cases, DNA from the virus can mix with DNA in the cells of the nasopharynx, causing them to multiply abnormally and grow into malignant tumours.
In her blog, Anderson says her course of treatment has been defined by her cancer’s link to the Epstein-Barr virus. She continues to take one day at a time: “You are one step closer. That has become my motto.”
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson is on an indefinite leave from the team to be with his wife.