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Josh Harding diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis


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#1 hockeyville88

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:12 PM

Sitting on a white leather couch in the living room of his Edina home, Josh Harding doesn't get emotional as he tells his story.

He looks completely healthy. He doesn't seem scared. He speaks so confidently, so courageously, you'd never know his life has been altered forever.

"I don't look at this like I've got to take a new path," said Harding, drafted 10 years ago by the Wild and months off signing a new three-year contract. "This is a little bump in the road. I've had lots in life."

Harding, 28, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an incurable autoimmune disease in which the body randomly attacks and eats away the protective lining of his nerves and causes them to scar. It causes problems with balance, fatigue and blurred vision. There are 25,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States every year.

"I had a couple days where I felt bad for myself, but no more," said Harding, who plans on continuing his career. "There's things in life that happen. Sometimes you can't explain it. You deal with it."

After keeping the disease private from everyone other than his immediate family for more than a month, Harding began calling friends Wednesday. He spoke to nearly every one of his teammates. He called Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo.

"Josh's competitive fire has led him to a successful career in the NHL and we know he will approach this new battle in the same manner," Fletcher said.

And Harding has made clear that MS will not end his career.

"There's going to be some good days and bad days, but I think if you talk to anybody in life, there's going to be some good days and bad days," Harding said.

Discovery and treatment

It started with a tweak in his neck. That evolved into dizziness, seeing black spots and numbness in his right leg.

"I just knew that something wasn't right," Harding said. "Honestly, I hadn't felt normal for a bit."
It was Sept. 27, and Harding went in for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test on his neck. Wild doctor Dan Peterson noticed an abnormality and summoned Harding back to his Edina practice for an MRI of his brain.

Peterson discovered lesions and called Harding back to his office that night.

"I told him I thought it was MS, and he wasn't like, 'Woe is me,'" Peterson said. "He's like, 'What do we do? Tell me how to go forward.'"

Over the next few weeks, Harding underwent a battery of tests to rule out other afflictions. He met with neurologist Jonathan Calkwood of the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology, whom Peterson calls the "MS guru." Peterson's diagnosis was confirmed.

For six weeks, as Harding tried to gain control of the disease with the support of his parents, Tim and Eileen, sisters Stephanie and Becky, and his fiancée, Sara, Harding didn't work out. He didn't show up to skate with fellow locked-out players, who grew worried.

He has been put on an aggressive treatment of medication in order to prevent new lesions and thus further episodes of "immune system flareup."

"It bodes well that we got on it right away before he got into a cycle of getting run down," Peterson said. "Maybe he never has another episode. Seventy percent of people with MS still go on to live long, productive, fulfilling lives. And from the first day, Josh hasn't lost that 'I'm going to kick its butt' attitude, so he can do this. There's no doubt he can keep playing."

Two weeks ago, Harding was cleared to skate again.

"The [other players] said after six weeks off, I didn't look out of place, which was big for me to hear," Harding said.

'I don't want people moping'

Harding has decided to tell his story for two selfless reasons.

The first is he is still optimistic the NHL lockout will end in time to have a shortened season.

"I'm a team-first guy," Harding said. "If we play a 41- or 60-game season, you lose seven in a row, you're not going to catch up. Let the distraction be now rather than when we're on a four-game road trip, we need to win and all of a sudden it leaks out."

Harding also wants to create awareness and be an example for those suffering with MS. He's already considering a charitable foundation.

"Even if it changes one person's life to show that I'm not letting this come between me and my goals, that would be awesome," Harding said.

Still, Harding can't seem to catch a break. He's endured the physical toll of hip surgery and reconstructive knee surgery, the emotional toll of losing close friends Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien in 2011.

"Still here though. Still here," Harding said, smiling. "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."


http://www.startribu...31.html?refer=y

Best of luck to him. Hope he can continue to have as normal a hockey career and life as possible.
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#2 CanucksFanMike

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:17 PM

http://www.startribu...31.html?refer=y

Best of luck to him. Hope he can continue to have as normal a hockey career and life as possible.


this
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#3 n00bxQb

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:19 PM

MS is an awful disease. I used to volunteer for the MS society when I was in high school as my long-time neighbour suffered from the disease for as long as I can remember and the quality of life some of these people have when it gets bad is just terrible.

Hopefully a cure will be found in our lifetime
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#4 susraiders

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:22 PM

Wow, that's terrible. But as long as he has a great attitude towards it, he will get through this. Hopefully they find a cure soon.
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#5 PlayStation

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:22 PM

Never thought bad about him as a player, always thought he was decent, but now I'll most definetly have respect, his attitude towards this is amazing! Goodluck Harding!
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#6 RunningWild

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:22 PM

So sad. Thoughts and prayers to him and his family. He's a battler, has a great attitude.

Edited by RunningWild, 28 November 2012 - 09:27 PM.

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#7 Bertuzzi Babe

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:27 PM

*
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Still, Harding can't seem to catch a break. He's endured the physical toll of hip surgery and reconstructive knee surgery, the emotional toll of losing close friends Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien in 2011.

"Still here though. Still here," Harding said, smiling. "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."


He's already a winner for getting through the bolded part......even if he doesn't achieve a Stanley Cup win with #1 goalie position with the Wild, he's already overcome some pretty significant things in his life. His sister has also been fighting breast cancer. One has to wonder why some people keep getting kicked over and over again. His courage and positive attitude will be a great weapon in fighting this disease......and as n00bxQb has said....it's a terrible, terrible one.

Edited by Bertuzzi Babe, 28 November 2012 - 09:30 PM.

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#8 Pears

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:32 PM

Jesus. Harding has had a rough few years. Wish him good luck.
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#9 poetica

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:44 PM

Well, that fraking sucks! I hope he's able to manage it and still accomplish everything he wants in his career and his life.
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#10 Jägermeister

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 10:40 PM

Classy guy who has already had to go through a lot in his lifetime.
Best of luck to him.
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#11 Madness

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 11:11 PM

Terrible news. Best of luck to him :(

Edited by Madness, 28 November 2012 - 11:12 PM.

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#12 Bitter Melon

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:05 AM

Good for him. I have the utmost respect for his attitude and how he's handling something so terrible.
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#13 coleman26

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:06 AM

Oh, man. There's few guys in the league I love as much as Josh Harding. His demeanour and approach to the game has always impressed me. He could easily have left the Wild to take a starting job this year, knowing that Backstrom is still likely going to be their guy, and he signed at a discount to fulfill some sort of personal commitment to seeing the Wild's plan through. His 'In Memory of' mask, the combo of Rick/Boogard/Pavol with the dedication to his Grandmother on the front is wonderful. He's always seemed like the nicest guy, no matter how much life tests him. MS is horrible. It's an awful thing. No punch line coming. I wish the best to Harding
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#14 Ghostsof1915

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:11 AM

My buddy in Australia has MS and has been fighting it for almost 20 years. He has a wife and two wonderful kids. I really do hope we get a cure sooner rather than later. All the best to Harding, he seems like such a classy guy.
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#15 coleman26

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:14 AM

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That mask. It's so awesome that you disregard your instinct to make a joke about it. Because it's that great.
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#16 TOMapleLaughs

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:39 AM

A guy i know recently passed from it. Sad part is his son found him on the floor choking on something and because he was special needs he was unable to do anything to prevent the choking. Sadder part is that the guy's family didn't even properly honour him at his funeral. They kinda treated him like he was already dead. It was really undeserved, because he was a real nice guy who didn't really deserve that kind of crap.

Best wishes, Josh Harding.
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#17 GoaltenderInterference

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:44 AM

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That mask. It's so awesome that you disregard your instinct to make a joke about it. Because it's that great.


He's also had a mask to support his sister who is/was battling breast cancer.

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#18 Captain Aerosex

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:51 AM

I remember seeing his mask for his sister who has breast cancer and I've always had tremendous respect for him since then. He's not just a talented goalie, but he's always come off as an amazing person and is clearly a courageous guy.

Best of luck to him.
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#19 Where's Wellwood

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 02:48 AM

This might be a setback in his career if he has another episode but it's by no means the end. Courtney Taylor, a receiver for the BC Lions, was diagnosed with MS back in 2008 but that didn't stop him and it won't stop Josh.
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#20 Mr. White

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:02 AM

Poor dude. I hope he can continue playing. Best of luck to him
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#21 Bure1994Mclean

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:00 AM

I remember reading a newspaper article a few years ago about what he was doing with his mask in commemoration for what his sister was going through and he's always since been one of the guys in the league I really respect; seeing his current attitude for what he is going through now just further reinforces that.
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#22 Burnsey

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:43 AM

I hope he can continue to play, and if he can then I say a standing ovation is needed from every team's fans.
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#23 Bombastik der Teutone

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:10 PM

what a bad unpredictable disease
i hope he still can play hockey for some years and keep some quality in life
there are people who lives over decades with MS without huge problems...

lets hope the best for josh
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#24 pimpcurtly

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:58 PM

Hope he can continue to play. And really hope that he doesn't have the progressive form of MS. All the best, Josh!
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#25 I♥Wellwood

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 06:03 AM

Really liked this article. Best of luck to Harding.

Harding grateful to doctors, Wild for support after MS diagnosis
When Wild goalie Josh Harding was first officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last month (read the Star Tribune’s story that will be in Thursday’s newspaper here), “I didn’t know anything about MS. I wish I did. Everybody hears about it, but nobody knows much about it unless you’re affected by it.”

That’s why Harding is so grateful to Wild doctor Dan Peterson and neurologist Jonathan Calkwood of the Schapiro Center for Multiple Sclerosis and the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology.

“I just can’t tell you how much both these doctors have gone above and beyond for me,” Harding said. “There’s no cure for it. It’ll be here the rest of my life. It’s something I’ve already accepted.”

Besides being provided with the basic education of the disease, Harding says Peterson is constantly a phone call away and “is just a great, great man” and that Calkwood has spent hours counseling him through every detail of treatment.

“There’s so much for myself to learn about MS,” Harding said. “I’ve already learned a lot, but there’s so much I want to learn.”

On Wednesday, Harding also made the difficult phone calls to inform Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo what he’s going through.

“I wanted to be the one to tell them,” Harding said. “And this will tell you what type of people these guys are. I didn’t know what to expect, how they’d react, if they’d be like, ‘What am I going to do? We’re going to have to get another goalie.’

“But not once did either talk about hockey. They were worried about my health. I don’t know. It was a really good feeling getting off the phone with both of them. When your GM and coach don’t look at the hockey side and are like, ‘Anything you need, just call,’ it was an awesome feeling.”

Fletcher said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Josh and his family following the news that he has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Josh’s competitive fire has led him to a successful career in the NHL and we know he will approach this new battle in the same manner.”

MS is “life changing,” Harding said, but he is thankful to his fiancee, Sara, who has been a rock at his side during episodes of fatigue and other symptoms. In fact, Sara is pregnant, meaning Josh is about to become a father for the first time.

“She knows I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for me, and she’s kept strong,” Harding said. “I don’t know if she goes in the bathroom and cries or whatever, but she’s been amazing and if there’s anybody this has been toughest on, it’s Sara.”

He said his mom, Eileen, dad, Tim, sisters, Stephanie and Becky, his agent, Craig Oster, and Sara’s parents have been “amazing” throughout with their support.

Harding said a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders Wednesday when he spent morning to night calling friends because he didn’t want them to find out of his diagnosis in Thursday’s Star Tribune.

He said when he was first diagnosed, he didn’t know if he should tell anybody. Then when he’d be in conversations with friends, whether he should tell them would be running through his head, and essentially, he didn’t act like himself for weeks.

He had been skating with fellow locked-out players here in town. Suddenly, he disappeared for no reason for six weeks. I had gotten an inkling that he had a neck injury, but he had been seen out in public, like Timberwolves games, so I didn’t bother him. That’s what his teammates were told, too.

“But to miss six weeks with a neck injury, I don’t know if any of the boys bought it,” Harding said.

Suddenly after being cleared two weeks ago, he returned to Mariucci for skates. But he would leave the ice with no reason after 45 minutes because he didn’t want to push it. Teammates knew something was up and said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but at least you’re OK.”

On Wednesday, Harding began to call those teammates. Cal Clutterbuck even said to him, “We knew something was up. We just didn’t know what.”

Harding talked to buddies like Niklas Backstrom, Kyle Brodziak, Darroll Powe, Tom Gilbert, Mikko Koivu.

Remember, Harding’s been in the Wild organization his entire pro career. Drafted in 2002, this is a guy who actually played in Houston during the last lockout with Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Stephane Veilleux. He signed a three-year, $5.7 million deal this past summer to stay here in Minnesota.

“I needed to call these guys and let them hear this from me,” Harding said. “They’re my family. People are a little worried, but once I explain everything, everybody has been incredible.

“I tried to hide it for this long and that was tough enough. It’s time to let everybody know and get it out, but I wanted to get back on the ice and make sure I was good first. I’m happy with the direction I’m going. But there’s still a mental game. You let a goal in and you wonder, ‘Would I have let that in eight months ago?’”

As I mentioned in the story, Harding got a huge emotional lift when teammates who still didn’t know what Harding had been dealing with were amazed that after six weeks off, he didn’t miss a beat.

Now he wants to tell his story to 1) get it out so it’s a distraction right now rather than if the season starts and it gets out then; 2) tell everybody that he will not allow MS end his career; 3) be a positive example for those afflicted with MS.

Dr. Peterson says there are 25,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. every year. MS usually hits people between ages 18-40, more women than men. The cause of MS is not known, but some say it’s genetics, some say it’s activated from virus, Peterson says.

Harding does have an uncle with MS.

“Thirty percent have a second episode in a year, 20 percent may take 2-5 years. It bodes well that we got on it right away before he got into a cycle of getting run down or his immune system flaring up. Maybe he never has another episode.”

Doctors are treating Harding’s case real aggressively with medication in an attempt to make sure no new lesions develop.

There is “no doubt” in Harding’s mind he can play hockey despite MS.

“The way I feel right now, my attitude, the pressure I put on myself to succeed, the support group I have with my awesome doctors and my incredible family, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Harding said.

“Nobody thought I’d come back from a torn ACL and MCL as a goalie. I feel good out there. I feel I can compete. I feel like I’m seeing the puck good. Craig [Oster] even said, with the knee, I was farther behind. That was nine, 10 months. This is five, six weeks, and now I’m back at it. I’m way ahead.”

http://www.startribu.../181296431.html

Edited by I♥Wellwood, 01 December 2012 - 06:05 AM.

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