Test results confirmed the lump was cancer. Treatable cancer. But cancer nevertheless.
Brandon Davidson, a 21-year-old rookie from Canada, was told Nov. 1 he had testicular cancer. The Oklahoma City Barons defenseman underwent surgery two days later. He spent the next six weeks recovering from surgery, then six additional weeks undergoing chemotherapy.
Davidson sat out all of November, December and January but returned to game action three months after the diagnosis.
“It's been very emotional but also very meaningful,” Davidson said. “This season has had its ups and downs. But it's been exciting. Ever since I've come back I've kind of had a new outlook on life. To go from where I wasn't playing hockey to where I am right now, I'm kind of on a high.”
Davidson not only returned, he's part of the defensive rotation for the Barons, who lead the best-of-7 American Hockey League Western Conference finals 2-1 against Grand Rapids heading into Games 4 & 5 Friday and Saturday at the Cox Convention Center.
“The kid oozes character. I could tell that the first time I talked to him,” said team captain Josh Green. “He's gone through some tough times, for sure, but he stayed positive and battled through.
“He's been awesome. He can chip in offensively. He had a big assist (Wednesday) night. He's a steady defenseman we can rely on. No one has any worries when he's on the ice.”
Paired with AHL veteran blue-liner Garrett Stafford is the ultimate compliment. A sixth-round pick, Davidson is getting ice time over players such as Colten Teubert, a former first-round pick who once was one of the Edmonton Oilers' top prospects.
“It speaks volumes about his character to overcome that illness,” said Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. “The way he's played since he came back has been tremendous. He's getting better and better. For a young kid, first year pro, to go through that and overcome it is very inspirational.”
Before Davidson underwent chemotherapy treatments several teammates shaved their heads.
“I received great support from my teammates, the fans, the entire organization,” Davidson said. “The guys definitely made me feel they were with me, standing by me through all of this. It's a great group of guys, something I'll never forget.”
What's been gratifying is once he returned, Davidson quickly proved he was ready to play a key role on a team making a run at the Calder Cup.
“I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in, but I've worked hard for it,” Davidson said. “Every day I come to the rink I put in the time and effort to get to where I am today. I feel I'm playing well, but it's also a privilege.”
Davidson was given the Hunt Memorial Award, voted on by AHL coaches, players and media members. The award is based on sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
An unheralded prospect who has improved greatly since training camp, Davidson, 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, can play physical but also has blueline scoring skills.