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Eddie Olczyk on cancer: 'I'm still scared to death, that's for sure'

Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Hockey

Blackhawks announcer Eddie Olczyk was audibly moved during a WSCR-AM 670 interview Thursday upon learning his candor and public battle with colon cancer led to early cancer detection and treatment for the father of a radio listener.

"I'm thankful and I appreciate that text," Olczyk said as he regained his composure during "The Spiegel and Parkins Show" after the listener's note was read. "That is truly my inspiration and my goal. I know that I'm reaching out to people I don't know. The only reason I want to share my story is to help people."

Given his druthers, Olcyzk has said since his diagnosis was announced last summer that he would have preferred to keep his health issues private.

But the 1984 Olympian who grew up in the Chicago area, played 16 seasons in the NHL and coached for a time before becoming a top TV hockey analyst for both NBC Sports and local Blackhawks telecasts has come to see increasing cancer awareness as much a mission as beating the disease himself.

Earlier, Olczyk told co-hosts Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins he was trying "to inspire one person to stay away from it or beat it themselves and hopefully it can be a domino effect down the road."

In addition to regular sports talk radio fare -- Olczyk thinks the Eagles and the over are good bets in the Super Bowl -- he said he has only two sessions remaining in his 12-treatment chemotherapy regimen.

"I've got 27 days to go till I'm unhooked, hopefully for the last time, and put this in my rearview mirror," Olczyk said, noting he plans to "just keep grinding away and hopefully continue to spread the word inspire people make sure people are taking care of themselves. It's been a battle. It's hard to believe I'm down to the last four weeks. The last couple of months have been a grind.

"I'm just looking forward to ... getting back to what I love to do and that's doing hockey games and doing some horse racing and get back to some sort of normalcy and hopefully put this cancer behind me."

Olczkyk, who has never failed to give thanks for support he has received from his family, the Blackhawks, his medical team and fans, acknowledged the toll the cancer fight has taken a toll not just physically but mentally.

He also said he will remain scared at least until a few weeks after his treatment concludes, when he is reexamined and given a status report.

"I feel very confident that I'm going to beat this, but there is that part I've got that part hanging over my head," Olczyk said. "What is that scan going to show me a few weeks after my last treatment? Is it going to tell me what I want to hear? Is it going to show me what I need to know? That's the scary part. Look, I'm still scared to death, that's for sure."

Though he conceded it takes certain toughness to get through an NHL career as he did, Olczyk said he never thought he was a tough player.

"But," he said, "anybody that goes through this horrible disease is tough. I don't care what anybody says. You are not weak. You are tough to be able to have to go through this."

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