A new per­spec­tive

Jor­dan Dray back play­ing hockey af­ter can­cer scare

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Some­times it is the clos­est calls in life that make you step back and take a look at the big pic­ture.

If you ask Pla­cen­tia’s Jor­dan Dray, he’ll tell you he looks at things a bit dif­fer­ently since com­ing close to con­tract­ing can­cer of his thy­roid ear­lier this year.

His brush with the dis­ease left him with a new out­look on life. The sun shines a lit­tle bit brighter and food tastes a bit bet­ter.

Still, Dray’s story is one of pre­vent­ing the prob­lem be­fore it starts. Last Au­gust, his mother no­ticed a small lump on Dray’s throat.

The fam­ily went to a doc­tor where Dray un­der­went a se­ries of tests to de­ter­mine if the lump was can­cer­ous.

“They weren’t en­tirely sure it if was can­cer at that point,” said Dray. “They didn’t want to take any chances.”

Af­ter a biopsy it was dis­cov­ered that it could very well be can­cer and in Novem­ber of last year, Dray was given a thy­roidec­tomy, which re­moved the right side of his thy­roid. The thy­roid man­ages how quickly the body uses en­ergy, makes pro­teins, and con­trols the body’s sen­si­tiv­ity to other hor­mones.

Those test re­sults in­di­cated that there was def­i­nitely the threat of can­cer. That led to a sec­ond pro­ce­dure to re­move the rest of Dray’s thy­roid in early Jan­uary 2015.

He started treat­ment to erad­i­cate the chance of any er­rant cells caus­ing prob­lems in the fu­ture. Dray un­der­went ra­di­a­tion dye ther­apy, he takes pills and goes for a checkup ev­ery six months.

“The hard­est part was get­ting my pills reg­u­lated. The big­gest prob­lem I had was hav­ing no en­ergy,” he said. “Ev­ery cou­ple of weeks I’ll get blood work done to see if my lev­els are go­ing up or down. It sees if I have to ad­just my pills.

“We were able to get it in time.” Pink in the rink When he spoke with The Com­pass last week, Dray was un­sure if he would be start­ing his team’s game with the Trin­ity-Pla­cen­tia Ju­nior Fly­ers on Fri­day at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.

It was set to be a spe­cial evening. The Stars did a Pink in the Rink fundraiser.

They wore pink tape, pink skate laces and painted parts of their pads pink in an ef­fort to raise funds and aware­ness for breast can­cer.

“It’s an ex­cel­lent thing,” said Dray. “It spreads aware­ness of breast can­cer and other forms of can­cer. Any­time you can do that, its great.” Get­ting back on the ice Dray is back play­ing hockey th­ese days for the Ju­nior Stars, shar­ing crease duty with fel­low keep­ers Mitchell Dob­bin and Ri­ley Ak­er­man while wear­ing his fa­mil­iar No. 30.

His goalie gear looks a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than the last time he hit the ice with the club. It’s been up­graded and has a cleaner look to it.

This sea­son he’s seen ac­tion in three con­tests, post­ing a re­spectable one win against two losses while stop­ping 92 of 107 shots he’s faced. Prior to start­ing on Oct. 2 of this year, his last start was Dec. 14 of last year.

“It’s ex­cel­lent,” said Dray. “I’m glad that I got back to play.”

Some­times, the ques­tion ‘what if ’ crosses his mind. On days when Dray’s mind wanders, he thinks about not get­ting the lump on this throat checked in Jan­uary. Even though those di­ag­nosed with thy­roid can­cer have a high sur­vival rate, it is still some­thing that comes up ev­ery now and then.

“You re­ally don’t know what might’ve hap­pened if I never got it checked,” said

Dray.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Goalie Jor­dan Dray had a close call last year when a doc­tor iden­ti­fied a

lump as po­ten­tially can­cer­ous.

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