Oskar Lindblom understands what he means to people fighting cancer, and that role will take center stage when the Philadelphia Flyers host Hockey Fights Cancer night against the New York Islanders on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).
The forward was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, on Dec. 10, 2019, but returned to the lineup Sept. 3, 2020 for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Islanders.
“You want to be the person that sends positive vibes and all that, more than I have done lately,” Lindblom said. “As long as I can spread awareness a little bit and help some people, I’m just happy.”
One of those people Lindblom has inspired is Gregg Lomazoff, a 35-year-old resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, who will be at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday wearing a jersey signed by Lindblom in memory of his younger brother, Matthew Lomazoff.
Matthew was 23 years old when he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy kept him cancer free for a time, but a more deadly form of the disease returned about three years ago.
“Lesions, tumors all over the brain, inoperable,” Gregg Lomazoff said. “They’d treat it, but at the time they said it can be a month or two, could be a year.”
Matthew Lomazoff received his treatments at Abramson Cancer Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the same place Lindblom was being treated. The brothers, who had attended Flyers games since the 1980s, immediately recognized Lindblom but never spoke to him.
On July 2, 2020, the Lomazoff family chose to place Matthew into hospice care. That same day, Lindblom rang a bell to commemorate his final cancer treatment.
Gregg sent Lindblom a congratulatory message on social media, thanking him for being a role model for Matthew and promising to wear a Lindblom jersey to Flyers games for good luck.
Matthew Lomazoff died the next morning. He was 31 years old.
Gregg has worn the jersey to Flyers games this season, but when he learned Hockey Fights Cancer night was coming up, he sent the jersey and a letter to the Flyers with the hope that Lindblom could sign it.
“I put it in there with a little note for him to sign, and if he could put ‘I Fight For,’ and my brother’s name,” he said.
Lindblom signed the jersey Friday and will give it to the Lomazoff family before the game Sunday.
Lindblom will be the centerpiece of the Flyers’ first Hockey Fights Cancer game since his diagnosis.
“We’re all-in as an organization to make this a special night for him and for everybody battling cancer,” Flyers Charities executive director Cindy Stutman said. “He’s been a real inspiration not only to us and to Flyers fans but the whole community so it’s a really, really important night for us to be able to celebrate him overcoming his battle.”
Lindblom said it’s meaningful to him that the fans feel honored Sunday because of the way they’ve supported him in his fight against cancer.
“It’s special,” he said. “They’ve been helping me all the way and they’ve been so kind to me and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.”
Gregg was a more passionate Flyers fan than Matthew, but the Hockey Fights Cancer game was one they always would attend together. Matthew won’t be there in person but his spirit certainly will be felt by Gregg and his parents.
“It’s bittersweet,” Gregg said. “It’s a nice thing to do. My parents were brought to tears. … We’ve been very touched.”
Photos provided by Gregg Lomazoff