Evan Trupp was sitting in bed in Dresden, Germany, the first time he noticed something was off.
On the side of his neck, the former UND hockey star and current German pro discovered something that felt like a bone or a muscle.
"I didn't think much of it," Trupp said. "I wasn't planning on saying anything. It didn't bother me. I just thought it would go away."
Soon after, Trupp happened to be walking out of the arena with his team's physiotherapist. Looking to make some small talk and work on his German -- she didn't speak English -- he mentioned what he found on his neck.
The physiotherapist immediately scheduled bloodwork. That was followed up with an MRI, a CT scan, ultrasounds, a colonoscopy, a gastroscopy, a PET scan and a surgery to remove lymph nodes.
Within two weeks, doctors diagnosed the 33-year-old Trupp with Stage 2A Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"It was definitely a shock," Trupp said. "I felt fine. I still do, to this day, feel fine. It's kind of scary to think I could have just never said anything and kept going and I never would have noticed anything.
"(While getting tests), I was being sidelined during our playoff push. I felt bad, because we were losing and I was sitting on the sidelines and I felt healthy. I kept apologizing to the guys that I wasn't playing. But when I got the results back, I wasn't expecting that."
Trupp flew back to his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, to begin treatment at Alaska Native Medical Center.
"They wanted to get things going in Germany," Trupp said. "Had it been maybe a different stage or a different type, they would have urged staying and starting right away. The way it worked out, there was a big enough time gap for me to head home and do treatment here. It's nice to be surrounded by family."
Trupp will go through two cycles of chemotherapy. He had his first round Thursday. He will go back once every two weeks for two months. After that, doctors will conduct more scans to evaluate the progress and decide whether to start radiation.
Trupp said he's optimistic about the prognosis because of his age, fitness level and because he caught it early.
"I have no doubt in my mind about this whole thing," Trupp said. "It's going to be a minor speed bump. But it's very hard for family members and friends."
Support from UND teammates
Trupp came to UND in the fall of 2007 and quickly became a fan favorite for his playing style, combining a high skill level with remarkable creativity.
From his freshman year, when he batted a puck out of mid-air while diving for an overtime winner against rival Minnesota at Mariucci Arena, to his senior year, when he carried the puck the length of the ice in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five on the blade of his stick, Trupp routinely pulled off things no one at UND has since attempted.
He racked up 108 career points at UND, was named the WCHA Final Five MVP in 2010 and twice won UND's Cliff 'Fido' Purpur Award as the "player who exemplifies hard work, determination and being a creator of excitement on the ice." Trupp played five years of pro hockey in North America before heading to Europe. He played one year in Austria. This is his fourth in Germany and first in Dresden.
In the locker room, Trupp's easy-going personality made him a favorite. He was especially close with his UND classmates. They were the first class in UND hockey history to complete four years without losing a single member early.
"You can't say one bad word about the kid," former teammate Danny Kristo said. "He's so nice. He's so caring. He has such a good heart and he's so good to all of his friends. We're just hoping and really praying for him."
Kristo, former classmate Brad Malone, former teammate T.J. Oshie and friend Brandon Horton, who he met at UND, discussed ways they could support Trupp. Kristo started a GoFundMe Account to help with medical expenses. Kristo said the organizers plan to post updates from Trupp on that page.
Trupp has requested that any money from the fundraiser not needed for medical expenses go to the Mario Lemieux Foundation. Lemieux battled Hodgkin's disease in 1993.
The GoFundMe campaign raised roughly $25,000 in two days.
Trupp said he's received considerable support from his old teammates. He woke up Thursday morning to a video from Malone, his old linemate.
"Trupper, thinking about you today," Malone said in the video. "We've been through everything together, so, what's one more, buddy? Love you."
Malone then flipped on a pair of clippers and shaved his head.
"It's 3 p.m. right now in Alaska and I've already talked to my whole class today," Trupp said. "I can't say enough about how thankful and grateful I am for everyone showing support."