Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wickenheiser Smiles through Latest Setback

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wickenheiser Smiles through Latest Setback

Article excerpt

The Miracle Man pulls off these resurrections so matter of factly.

Here he is, making a milkshake at the frozen-custard shop he co-owns near St. Peters, holding the cup with the left hand that supposedly is killing him. No harm, no foul, no fuss.

"On the house," he says.

The customer, an old friend, insists on paying. "OK, then it's $2.88," says Doug Wickenheiser, saving his strength for bigger battles.

A cancer growth below the wrist has ended Wickenheiser's pro hockey career at age 33. It was a minor-league career the last two seasons in Peoria, Ill., and Fort Wayne, Ind., and a European career the two years before that in Italy and Austria. His last National Hockey League shift was in Washington in 1990, and his last in St. Louis was three years before that.

Wickenheiser makes his home in Ballwin. His wife of two years, Dianne, is a St. Louisan.

Although he spent only parts of four years as a Blues forward, morbid rumors of Wickenheiser's latest ordeal frightened a wide section of town. With the Miracle Man, it's best not to assume the worst. "Oh, I'm still up and about," he says, grinning.

With Wickenheiser, there always is hope, always life. And lives.

"Dianne had the twins on Aug. 4," he says of identical firstborns Rachel and Kaitlin. "They were eight weeks premature and had to stay in the hospital for three weeks.

"On Aug. 8, I had the surgery. I thought it was just a cyst. I'd had it for about two years. I wanted to get it removed because it can grow roots that wrap around the nerve.

"They did a biopsy, and on Aug. 10 they said it was a very rare kind of cancer. They see about 30 cases a year in the U.S."

He grins and adds: "It couldn't be anything simple."

His weekday radiation doses at an outpatient clinic began last month. He has 17 down, 16 to go.

He says the underside of his wrist is "like a sunburn."

Wickenheiser was a junior scoring star of 18 when Montreal Canadiens chief scout Ron Caron had his pick of the 1980 draft litter. Needing a big center, Caron chose the 6-footer first overall. That cost Caron his job and produced a life of media scrutiny for Wickenheiser. …

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