Brad Larsen was waiting in line to see an orthopedic specialist at the Atlanta Thrashers’ medical evaluation day in 2007 when he noticed a dermatologist who wasn’t busy.
“So I just decided, ‘Why not?’ because I was just sitting there doing nothing,” Larsen told the Columbus Dispatch in 2018. “It was just by the grace of God that I did see him.”
The dermatologist found a melanoma on Larsen’s upper back that needed immediate treatment.
“He called me in and showed me where it was and said, ‘We’re gonna operate now,’” Larsen said. “That was two days after they found it. He basically carved a big ‘Z’ in my upper back and got it out.”
That experience taught Larsen to get regular checkups. Though nothing else ever came from the skin cancer, Larsen was quick to see a doctor when he felt a lump on one of his testicles a few years later.
He was traded to the Anaheim Ducks soon after the bout with melanoma, and missed the 2008-09 season due to hip and sports hernia surgeries. He then spent the following season playing for the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League, and noticed the lump soon before the playoffs.
It was testicular cancer, for which he went through three weeks of radiation treatment.
That season in Portland was Larsen’s last as a professional hockey player. He played in 294 games over eight seasons in the NHL, registering 19 goals and 29 assists. After his playing career ended, Larsen dedicated his life to Christ.
“Since giving myself to Christ on May 22, 2011, my life has been absolutely transformed. I owe everything to God and His loving words in the Bible,” he wrote in a recent post for Hockey Ministries International.
"The Bible has changed my life. PLAIN AND SIMPLE. The more I read it the more I am truly humbled and amazed at what an incredible God we truly have. He helps guide me through daily life with His word." – Brad Larsen, Asst. Coach, Columbus Blue Jackets https://t.co/8FOPwF6q3d pic.twitter.com/1hHvNaRjjc
— Hockey Ministries (@_HMI_) March 9, 2020
Larsen has been an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets since 2014, when he was promoted from his position as head coach of the Springfield Falcons, the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate at the time. He has helped guide Columbus to playoff appearances each of the last three seasons.
The team won a playoff series for the first time in franchise history in 2018-19, sweeping the 62-win Tampa Bay Lightning before falling to the Boston Bruins in the second round. Larsen and the Blue Jackets (33-22-15, 81 points) will continue their quest for a fourth straight trip to the postseason when the NHL season resumes following the coronavirus outbreak.
As Larsen has continued to grow in his faith, the Bible has become a crucial part of his life every day.
“The Bible has changed my life. PLAIN AND SIMPLE. The more I read it the more I am truly humbled and amazed at what an incredible God we truly have,” Larsen wrote in the HMI post. “He helps guide me through daily life with His Word.”
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