T.J. Oshie and 9-year-old Addy Flint hugged, and then they began catching up like the old friends they’ve become. Oshie asked what she’s going to be for Halloween. Mal from The Descendants, she said. He then told her about how his 3-year-old daughter, Lyla, would be dressed as a T-Rex and that 1-year-old Leni is going as a hot dog.
Oshie complimented Addy’s Capitals jersey, a No. 77 Oshie one that he signed for her the first time they met. She giggled and said thanks. Addy then told Oshie about her plans for the evening, trick-or-treating and watching a movie projected on the side of a friend’s white house.
“How’s treatment going?” Oshie then asked.
Addy scrunched up her face because it’s been hard. The first time she met Oshie was last November, when the Capitals paired each player with a kid from Make-A-Wish’s Mid-Atlantic chapter. At the time, Addy had been in remission for three years from a life-threatening kidney cancer she was diagnosed with at age 4. She’s relapsed since then and has had three surgeries since June with one more to come.
Oshie has stayed in touch through it all, trading emails with Addy’s mother, Stacey, for updates on Addy’s health and exchanging occasional tweets with Addy. On Tuesday, she came to practice at the team’s facility in Arlington, and then Oshie chatted with her and her little sister, Isabelle, afterward.
“It does mean a lot to me because that means he actually cares,” Addy said.
“A lot of it is just is Addy’s personality and just who she is,” Oshie said. “She’s fun to hang out with.”
It all hits home for Oshie, who has two daughters of his own and went through a health scare when Lyla was born with a condition called gastroschisis, a hole in the abdominal wall that causes a baby’s intestines to be outside of the body. Lyla is happy and healthy now, but in this small way, he can relate to what Flints have been going through for the past five years.
“It’s the hardest thing I can imagine as a parent to watch your kid go through,” Oshie said.
Addy had chemotherapy on Monday, and as she watched Oshie practice and banged on the glass, some side effects wore on her. Stacey noticed she was tired and just being in the cold rink was draining. She’s going through five-week treatment cycles with three different types of chemotherapy. The fourth week is the highest dose, forcing her to remain in her hospital room for the fifth week because she can’t be in public. For those weeks, she often plays an NHL video game on an Xbox. Sometimes she has to be quarantined at home. When Oshie asked Addy how school is going, she said, “It’s kind of hard because I miss most of it.”
“Her getting to see T.J. and watch the Caps practice is really inspirational for her,” Stacey said. “She mentioned how it kind of allows her to look forward to something. She’s been determined to be healthy today as well as it kind of gives her something fun to remember when there are kind of the rough times.”
Addy has five rounds of chemotherapy left. She’s already had 12 rounds of abdominal radiation, which required intravenous feeding for the past four weeks, and she told Oshie about how nauseous that makes her feel. Oshie then made Addy laugh when he suggested putting M&M’s candy through her IV.
“He’s my favorite player because he’s kind, cares about other people and is very tough on the ice,” Addy said.
“I think they have a kindred spirit in the fact that they both can be really tough and really brave and then also have fun and be light and happy,” Stacey said.
Addy’s visit with Oshie was “the happy part” of her day, she said. The “sad part” came after, when she had to go back to the clinic for more treatment. The Flints will be at the Capitals’ game against the Islanders on Thursday, and Addy asked Oshie to make a score prediction. She wanted to know how the new players on the team are adjusting. Oshie just requested that she wear her lucky ladybug earrings to help him break out of his “cold streak.”
“Hopefully I can put on a show for her,” he said.
“I feel like he’s sort of like a friend now more than just a hockey player,” Addy said. “That’s very nice and meaningful.”
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