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West Kelowna Warriors goaltender battles through incorrect cancer diagnosis

Click to play video: 'Warrior wrongly diagnosed with cancer' Warrior wrongly diagnosed with cancer
West Kelowna Warriors goaltender Riley Morgan was wrongly diagnosed with thyroid cancer earlier last year – Feb 18, 2020

A Canadian Junior Hockey League player is working to get back into the game after a medical misdiagnosis nearly sidelined the 19-year-old for good.

“Some things happened [and I] ended up at home for about three months,” Riley Morgan, BCHL West Kelowna Warriors netminder, said.

Playing for the Selkirk Steelers in Manitoba last September, Morgan said he felt exhausted all the time and finally decided to seek medical attention.

Click to play video: 'West Kelowna Warriors 2020 Playoff Preview' West Kelowna Warriors 2020 Playoff Preview
West Kelowna Warriors 2020 Playoff Preview – Feb 4, 2020

“The first hospital I went to told me I had thyroid cancer and I had to get surgery and have my whole entire thyroid removed,” Morgan said.

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Devastated, Morgan headed home to Scottsdale, Ariz., in order to face the biggest battle of his life.

However, he says he was hesitant to have the surgery right away.

Click to play video: 'West Kelowna Warriors 2020 Playoff Preview' West Kelowna Warriors 2020 Playoff Preview
West Kelowna Warriors 2020 Playoff Preview – Feb 4, 2020

Instead, Morgan sought a second opinion at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“They ran all their tests on me and did everything they could and it came back not cancer,” Morgan said.

Canadian researchers have found Morgan’s case is far from rare.

READ MORE: University of Calgary study suggests ‘overdiagnosis epidemic’ in thyroid cancer

It’s estimated 7,100 Canadians are diagnosed with thyroid cancer every year. But new research says that close to 75 per cent of those diagnosed may not have thyroid cancer at all.

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“It looks like maybe 20 per cent of those who are currently being treated for it are the ones who really have it, so a large fraction really don’t,” Dr. James Dickinson, one of the University of Calgary study co-authors, told Global News in 2017.

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Majority of those diagnosed with thyroid cancer don’t require treatment: study – Aug 16, 2017

The cancer misdiagnosis was a relief for the teen hockey player.

“I was happy to hear that but I was more happy to get back to the sport,” Morgan said.

“I love the battle and I love, especially being in goal it’s always a battle, there’s so much pressure and a lot of people don’t like that but I love how much pressure it is.”

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Cancer-free, Morgan set his sights on returning to the game and got back on the ice in Arizona, training for a comeback.

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Eventually, Warriors owner John Murphy heard from Morgan’s goaltending trainer about how hard Morgan had been working on getting back into shape and the Warriors decided to give the former Selkirk Steeler a call.

“We thought, you know, this guy is going to come in and give us everything he has and play inspired hockey, he is going to be competitive, and he wants a second chance at a career,” said Chris Laurie, president of the Warriors franchise.

So West Kelowna gave Morgan the second chance he was looking for.

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In his first start for the team, Morgan paid them back by posting 30 saves on 31 shots on the way to a 4-1 victory over the Vernon Vipers.

“We’re very pleased with how he has come in, he is a great character, he’s mature, he fits right into the room and any time he has played he has given a top performance,” Laurie said.

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The illness that made Morgan seek medical attention is now correctly diagnosed and completely treated by medication.

It leaves Morgan free to concentrate on the game he loves.

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“The rest of the season, just whenever I get in the net, [I will] just try and do the best I can, give my team a chance to win,” Morgan said.

 

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