Wild goalie Josh Harding on MS diagnosis: "I don't look at this like I've got to take a new path"
Harding: "I want this to be a story where when we look back, it was a happy story."
About two months ago, Wild goalie Josh Harding, 28, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an incurable (but treatable) disease that affects the brain and spinal cord -- in particular, the protective covering around nerve cells. He went public with his illness this week.
Symptoms include vision problems, loss of balance, and problems moving. It's not news anybody wants to hear, but it's especially grim when your livelihood depends on vision, balance, and movement.
Nonetheless, Harding -- who signed a three-year, $5.7 million contract in July and is expecting his first child with his fiancee -- doesn't plan to let MS get in the way of his hockey career.
In an interview with the Star Tribune, Harding said he doesn't "look at this like I've got to take a new path... This is a little bump in the road. I've had lots of them."
Harding told the Strib he suspected something wasn't right when he started seeing black spots, feeling dizzy, and experiencing numbness in his right leg. A September 27 MRI revealed the brain lesions indicative of MS.
For the last couple months, Harding has spent most of his time coming to terms with his symptoms and beginning treatment, but he was cleared to resume skating just a couple weeks ago and hopes to play if and when the 2012-13 NHL season begins.
Here's a few more Harding quotes from his Strib interview:
On his symptoms pre-diagnosis: "I just knew that something wasn't right... honestly, I hadn't felt normal for a bit."
"I had a couple days where I felt bad for myself [since the diagnosis], but no more... There's things in life that happen. Sometimes you can't explain it. You deal with it."
On how his teammates have reacted now that he's skating with them again: "The [other players] said after six weeks off, I didn't look out of place, which was big for me to hear."
"You can let it get you down for a bit, but you've got to move past it. I know what my overall goal is to be, and that's a No. 1 goalie of the Minnesota Wild and to win a Stanley Cup here. It would make me happy to overcome this. Not just overcome this, but to really succeed with it."
"I don't want people treating me different, I don't want people feeling bad for me, I don't want people moping around. I want this to be a story where when we look back, it was a happy story."
If Harding accomplishes his goal of playing in the NHL again, he'll be the second player to see NHL action after an MS diagnosis. The first was fellow goalie Jordan Sigalet, who was in the midst of an outstanding senior season at Bowling Green University in 2003 when he experienced numbness across his entire body and was diagnosed with MS. He went on to play just one game with the Boston Bruins, and unfortunately his career is probably best remembered for a scary on-ice collapse he suffered during a minor league game in 2007.
But in an InGoal Magazine interview published today, Sigalet said he's confident Harding can continue to play and thrive despite his illness.
"It's a disease you can manage," Sigalet said. "That one big setback I had with the collapse in Providence is really the only major thing that happened to me, and in March it is going to be nine years since I was diagnosed."
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