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Craig, Nicholle Anderson thank hockey world for support

Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson’s wife, Nicholle, is battling cancer.


Less than a month ago, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson and his wife Nicholle had their world turned upside down by Nicholle's cancer diagnosis.

In a joint statement released Friday morning by the Ottawa Senators, the young couple expressed their thanks and gratitude for the support they've received through this difficult time.

The couple announced that Nicholle, 35, has been diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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According to the American Cancer Society, nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the upper part of the throat behind the nose and near the base of skull.

The Andersons shared that treatment for this cancer will require both chemotherapy and radiation and will take place at the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Centre in New York. Treatments have already begun.

"First and most importantly, we want to take this opportunity to thank the entire hockey world for the tremendous support following Nicholle's cancer diagnosis," the couple said in the statement. "We would also like to express our gratitude to the Ottawa Senators organization, from Eugene Melnyk to Pierre Dorion, coach Boucher and the players, to the other wives, girlfriends and fans who have gone to great lengths to allow us both to battle this together."

Dorion, Ottawa's general manager, revealed Nicholle's cancer diagnosis Oct. 29 following news of Anderson taking a leave of absence for personal reasons earlier in the week.

Anderson returned to the team Oct. 30 and posted a 2-0 shutout against the Edmonton Oilers in an emotional victory.

Anderson has continued playing, but the Senators realize he could need to leave at any time and have given full support for whatever he requires.

The Senators have been rocked by cancer before. Many Ottawa fans remember former coach Roger Neilson's hard-fought battle during the 2002-03 season and his inspirational meeting with players prior to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final, or the support for assistant coach Mark Reeds, who lost his battle with esophageal cancer in 2015.

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Bryan Murray, the Senators former GM and current senior hockey adviser, continues to battle Stage 4 colon cancer.

Many of the players who have been affected by cancer in some way were among the first to offer support to the Anderson family.

"Andy's been an incredible inspiration to all of us the way he's been able to deal with what Nicholle is going through and his whole family," said defenceman Dion Phaneuf. "We want to support him and her as much as we possibly can.

"He's just been incredible. There's no words to describe what he's done for our team, being so unselfish and coming back to our team during such a tough time and playing the way that he has is incredible. It just speaks to the character of him. He's got all the support in the world from us."

The outpouring of support has come across the league, and the Andersons appreciate all of it.

"Many people have approached us about asking how they can support us during this challenging time. We simply ask for your thoughts and well wishes and that those who choose to, continue to support their local Cancer Society for research on how to cure this disease," they said.

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The Andersons understand that Craig lives in the public eye, but have asked for privacy during this difficult time. Any updates will be provided through the Senators.

Friday afternoon coach Guy Boucher confirmed Anderson would start Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

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