Wisconsin defenseman Dan Boeser hopes to be in the lineup for the Badgers’ Oct. 11 opener against Rensselaer despite undergoing treatment for cancer.
Boeser has been diagnosed as having follicular B-cell lymphoma and is receiving radiation therapy. The 22-year-old from Savage, Minn., has completed four of 20 radiation sessions and should finish that schedule of treatments around the middle of September.
“After that, I’m going to have about three to three-and-a-half weeks before our first game,” Boeser said. “So I’m just going to see how I feel after the treatments and try to get myself back in shape. It’ll be up to the three coaches [to say] whether or not I’m ready to play.
“As of right now, I don’t plan on missing any games.”
Boeser got the diagnosis a month ago. He had been treated for kidney stones twice in the last 15 months, which prompted Dr. Tom Best, the physician who works with the Badgers hockey team, to suggest further tests.
A CT scan showed enlarged lymph nodes in Boeser’s lower pelvis, and a biopsy of one of his lymph nodes provided the diagnosis.
“It was hard to hear that,” Boeser said of the cancer diagnosis at a news conference on Monday. “You don’t really think you can actually get it. You hear the doctors tell you, ‘You got it’ and I just kind of said, ‘Whatever, I got it, just deal with it.’
“You can’t really feel sorry for yourself, you just have to go through the treatments and get it over with. That’s all you can do.”
Boeser is one of a number of people closely associated with college hockey to have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years. Maine coach Shawn Walsh lost his battle with a rare form of the disease last September.
Merrimack coach Chris Serino has received a clean bill of health after fighting throat cancer. Serino, who has been rumored to be a candidate to become the school’s interim athletics director, will be back behind the bench full time this season after missing much of the 2001-02 season.
RIT captain Kristine Pierce won the Hockey Humanitarian Award in 1999 after beating Hodgkin’s disease and returning to the ice.
Boeser, who will be a junior at Wisconsin in the fall, has played in all 80 games in his two seasons in Madison. He was selected for the WCHA all-star team that was to travel to Italy last month, but that trip was canceled because of security concerns.
He led Badgers defensemen in scoring last season with 28 points.
The radiation treatments have thrown off Boeser’s offseason training schedule to the point where he won’t be ready for the five-mile run new Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves has scheduled for his team as a measure of fitness. “But when the time comes,” Boeser said, “I’ll have to be ready, I guess.”
Through it all, Boeser’s attitude has shined through to Eaves.
“I think Danny’s whole attitude is something we want all of our players to have,” Eaves said. “Control the things you can control in life. And right now he’s been given this challenge and he’s meeting it head on and he’s going to give himself the best chance of getting back in the lineup as soon as he can with that type of attitude.
“It’s a lesson that’s kind of slapped Danny in his face, but it’s one that all of his teammates can learn from, I’m sure.”