Oskar Lindblom rang the bell of hope signifying his last chemotherapy treatment at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center and then hugged his girlfriend, Alma Lindqvist.
In a calendar year that has seen so much misery, it was a beautiful sight.
“I’m just happy that I’m alive,” Lindblom said, “and that I caught it early.”
The Flyers forward, whose season was interrupted in December with the stunning diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma, walked out of the hospital amid cheers from the medical staff, but it was Lindblom who was most grateful.
“From family to friends to fans, I can’t even explain how much that [support] meant to me,” he said after posing for a picture with the nursing staff and giving them a signed jersey. “Especially at the start. It was a rough time and I got all those kind words, it made me feel so much better and calm.”
Lindblom credited Lindqvist with encouraging him to get his seemingly innocuous leg pain checked more thoroughly in December. When you’re 23 years old and off to the best start of your three-year career, you tend to dismiss midseason aches.
“If you have something on you that is not normal,” Lindblom said Thursday, “go and check it out.”
Lindblom was tied for the team lead with 11 goals and was well on pace to break his career high of 17 set in 2018-19.
He last played Dec. 7, skating on a line with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek, and remained popular among teammates as he battled his illness, which is more common in children. #OskarStrong dominated social media and players around the league continually showed support.
It was nice to see Sidney Crosby wearing a black and purple Lindblom T-shirt.
“I can’t say enough about this young man,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement. “Everyone can see the talent and impact that Oskar had for us on the ice, but he is an outstanding teammate in our locker room and a genuinely good person. His attitude and strength through all of this is a tremendous inspiration for us all.
“Today is a great day. Congrats to Oskar. We look forward to having him rejoin our team in the near future.”
Lindblom resumed skating with teammates June 23 during informal workouts. He will not be with the Flyers when they are scheduled to resume play in early August. The 2020-21 NHL season, which may not start until late December or early January, is a possibility for him, however.
“I can’t even explain how I feel,” he said. “It’s like a birthday, Christmas, all of those holidays at the same time. It feels awesome to be done. I can’t wait to get back to a normal life again and start feel like I’m living.”