Pittsburgh Penguins sophomore defenseman Olli Maatta heard the words nobody wants to hear at any point in their lives, let alone at barely 20 years of age: doctors discovered a tumor that could be cancerous. Fortunately for the native Finn, the overall diagnosis sounds far less ominous: he’ll have surgery next week to remove the tumor, which is on his thyroid; he’s healthy enough to play until he goes under the knife; and he’s expected to return to action within a month.
“Even if (the tumor) is found to be cancerous, we do not expect that he will need radiation or chemotherapy, and we anticipate a complete recovery,” said Penguins team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas. “In all likelihood, Olli will go on to live a healthy life and this should not affect his ability to play hockey long-term.”
Maatta didn’t seem at all fazed when he spoke with reporters after the announcement, and that’s in part because he first learned about the tumor three weeks ago. He’s already had a physical challenge after undergoing shoulder surgery in May, and although this is an altogether different type of ailment, he appeared ready at a press conference Monday afternoon to move ahead and take this one on:
If you wish to send Maatta words of encouragement, the Penguins have set up a web page at which you can do so. Click here to access it.