Harding looks at battle with MS as way to inspire

Published On November 30, 2012 | By Meredith Perri

Toward the end of September, Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding did not feel right. According to an article in the Star Tribune, he felt a tweak in his neck followed by dizziness and seeing black spots. He even experienced numbness in his right leg.

“I just knew that something wasn’t right,” Harding said. “Honestly, I hadn’t felt normal for a bit.”

It was at this point, on Sept. 27, that Harding went for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test on his neck and Wild doctor Dan Peterson noticed an abnormality. After sending Harding to get an MRI of his brain, Peterson discovered lesions.

“I told him I thought it was [multiple sclerosis], and he wasn’t like, ‘Woe is me,'” Peterson said. “He’s like, ‘What do we do? Tell me how to go forward.'”

After more than a month of battling the incurable autoimmune disease, and only telling his immediate family, Harding has informed the public about his condition. Yet, just one day after Harding called his friends, each of his teammates, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo, the 28-year-old sounded completely confident as he discussed this setback.

“I don’t look at this like I’ve got to take a new path,” Harding said. “This is a little bump in the road. I’ve had lots in life.”

Harding has made it clear that he does not view this as the end of his career, rather he wants to use this opportunity to inspire others that are suffering from MS.

“Even if it changes on person’s life to show that I’m not letting this come between me and my goals, that would be awesome,” Harding said.

After learning that he had MS, Harding spent close to six weeks battling the disease and is on an aggressive treatment of medication so that he does develop any new lesions. Two weeks ago, Harding received the news that he was cleared to skate.

The netminder, who was drafted by the Wild 10 years ago and recently signed a three-year contract, is hopeful that the team will get to play this year — and that served as part of his reasoning for going public with the news now as opposed to later.

“I’m a team-first guy,” Harding said. “If we play a 41- or 60-game season, you lose seven in a row, you’re not going to catch up. Let the distraction be now rather than when we’re on a four-game road trip, we need to win and all of a sudden it leaks out.”

While harding said he did feel bad for himself for a couple of days, his overall philosophy on the situation sure seems pretty inspiring.

“There’s going to be some good days and bad days,”Harding said, “but I think if you talk to anybody in life, there’s going to be some good days and bad days.”

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About The Author

Meredith is a junior journalism student at Boston University. She has covered nearly every sport for The Daily Free Press, BU’s independent student newspaper, but mainly writes about women’s hockey. Meredith has also covered Major League Baseball as an intern with SNY and MetsBlog.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mere579.