Like a stone tossed into a still lake, the Oskar Lindblom story continues to have ripple effects.
The latest is a $50,000 grant that Flyers’ Charities will present to Dr. Margaret Chou, an associate professor and cancer researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia since 2019.
The money was raised by the Flyers selling “Oskar Strong” T-shirts at home games as well as other fundraising activities following Lindblom’s diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma in December 2019.
“This will help us move research forward on this type of cancer at a really critical time,” said Chou. “This is a really rare cancer. Not a lot of people have heard about it, and that’s a problem. If people don’t hear about it, they don’t care about it.”
Lindblom beat the cancer last summer and returned to the Flyers in time for the 2019-20 postseason bubble. He played in 50 of 56 games in 2020-21.
As expected, Lindblom’s ice time last season needed managing as the compacted schedule often left players little time for recovery between games. Like most of his teammates, his numbers were down (eight goals, minus-9 rating), though he did manage to get into his first NHL fight.
Lindblom last month became the fourth Flyer to win the Masterton trophy, given by the Professional Hockey Writers Association for perseverance and dedication to the game. Bobby Clarke (1972), Tim Kerr (1989), and Ian Laperriere (2011) are the other Flyers to have won.
The grant, officially known as the Philadelphia Flyers Community Research Grant in Honor of Oskar Lindblom, will formally be presented on Wednesday. It was awarded through the Sarcoma Foundation of America. Money is the lifeblood for scientists trying to eradicate disease, and this will help.
“Every day at SFA we hear stories about people who are diagnosed or people who didn’t make it, and we take it so personally,” said Brandi Felser, SFA’s chief executive officer. “These are people who are literally fighting for their lives, so it’s up to us to fight for them.”
Sarcomas, Felser pointed out, account for about 1% of adult cancers but anywhere from 15-20% of those in children. That is why CHOP is so dedicated.
Lindblom, at 23, was relatively old when he was diagnosed with his sarcoma. Thanks largely to chemotherapy treatments he received at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, he will turn 25 on Aug. 15.
Chou said Ewing’s sarcoma diagnoses often have fatal outcomes within five years for patients who do not respond to chemotherapy. Her team is working on developing cancer immunotherapy, a treatment that has shown success in other cancers but not yet for Ewing’s sarcoma.
“When you think about breast, colon, lung, and skin cancers, those are really common cancers,” Chou said. “Everybody knows people who’ve been affected by them. Everybody donates to them. But these rare kind of cancers, the kind that Oskar had. People don’t know about it, so it’s underfunded.”