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Rodriguez back on ice after cancer bout

After a recent East Ridge boys hockey game, one in which the Raptors happened to lose, senior defenseman Emilio Rodriguez was still smiling.

It's not that he doesn't care if his team wins or loses -- nothing could be farther from the truth.

However, less than a year after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, just getting back on the ice is a bigger win for him.

In early March, Jim Rodriguez noticed some swelling on his son Emilio's throat and decided they should go get it checked out.

The news wasn't good.

At age 17, Emilio had thyroid cancer and would need to undergo surgery and treatment in order to save his life.

"It hit me out of nowhere," Emilio said. "I didn't know how to react. At first I just tried to ignore it until the day I had to go to surgery, then it hit me that this is actually happening."

After the school year ended, in early June, Emilio underwent a seven-and-a-half hour surgery at United Hospital in St. Paul, in which the doctors removed his thyroid gland and surrounding cancerous tissue.

Three weeks later, he was back in the gym, training up to five days a week to get back on the ice for his senior season. Just over a month after that, he was lacing up his skates once again and playing the sport he loves.

This season, Rodriguez has played in all seven of the Raptors' games and has registered one point from his spot on the blue line.

"This is probably the best feeling I've ever had," Emilio said. "Just being back to my regular schedule and doing the things I love to do. It's a lot of fun. The rink is like my second home. Every time I came to the ice I felt better. I was just really glad to be around my friends, which helped me out a lot too."

Pick up a copy of the Dec. 22 print edition of the South Washington County Bulletin for the full story.

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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