Canucks alumnus Gino Odjick diagnosed with terminal heart disease

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Former Vancouver Canucks left winger Gino Odjick has been diagnosed with a rare heart disease. His condition is terminal – he may only have months, maybe weeks to live.

Shortly after Pat Quinn’s ceremony, he was diagnosed with AL amyloidsis – a rare condition that causes protein to form deposits in the heart. Treatments including a heart and bone marrow transplant will not work.

The following letter from Odjick was posted on the Vancouver Canucks website earlier this evening:

Dear friends, teammates and fans,

We have shared many great moments together over the years but today I need to share the most difficult news of my life.

About two months ago I was diagnosed with a rare terminal disease called AL amyloidosis. It’s causing abnormal protein to be produced and deposits are being formed on my heart. It’s hardening my heart and my doctors aren’t sure how long I have to live. Initially they thought years, but now they think it could be a lot less. I could be down to months or even weeks.

I was diagnosed with this disease a few days after Pat Quinn’s ring of honour night. 48 hours later I received the news and I’ve been in the hospital under the supervision of some great doctors ever since. I also have the support of my family and some great friends.

I’m telling you about this now because news is beginning to leak out and I wanted you to know the truth and hear it from me personally.

I feel very fortunate for the support I’ve received over the years. During my career I played in some great NHL cities including, Vancouver, Long Island, Philadelphia and Montreal. In my heart, I will always be a Canuck and I have always had a special relationship here with the fans.

My teammates became like brothers and am thankful I had the opportunity this past year to re-unite with so many of them. I’ll never forget my first NHL game against Chicago and my first goal. It also means the world to me that I was able to open doors for kids in the Aboriginal community. I was just a little old Indian boy from the Rez. If I could do it, so could they. Education is freedom.

I also made some great friends through hockey and away from the ice as well. Life-long friends who have always been by my side, in good times and bad. Thank you for everyone’s support throughout my life and during this difficult time.

Your support throughout the years as I had the chance to live out my dream on the ice made the journey that much more special and cherished.

I understand the media will likely want to learn more, but I hope you can respect my request for privacy as I focus my time on my children and family.

– Gino

Image: Stephen Dyrgas / Flickr

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