VIDEO: Jimmy Howard surprises fan before she undergoes mastectomy

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Breast cancer has touched the lives of so many people around the world. One such person on which it has had a direct impact is Kelly Rothe. The 20-year-old native of Ann Arbor, Mich., lost her mother to breast cancer, which led her to make a very difficult personal decision.

Years after her mother passed away, Rothe got tested to see if she carries the BRCA1 gene mutation that correlates with a high likelihood of getting breast cancer. She did, which Rothe said put her lifetime risk of getting breast cancer at about 87 percent. Knowing the difficulty her family went through with her mother dying of the disease, Rothe decided to make the brave choice to undergo a preventative double mastectomy.

According to, the doctors at Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak, Mich., say she will be the youngest patient ever to undergo the procedure at that hospital.

Rothe has been a major story the last few months in the medical field as her age and the debates about the necessity of preventative mastectomies creates some amount of controversy. Rothe remains unfazed about her decision.

Before undergoing the procedure however, she was treated to a VIP dinner at Joe Louis Arena, home of her beloved Detroit Red Wings and her favorite player, goaltender Jimmy Howard. Rothe was joined by family for a night out before her surgery.

She also got a tour of the building including the Red Wings locker room, where there was a signed Howard jersey in his locker for her. As she gawked at her new souvenir, the Red Wings goalie snuck into the room offering Rothe flowers and the most pleasant surprise she could have hoped for.

“Jimmy Howard just gave me flowers,” a beaming Rothe exclaimed to everyone in the room. She was quite clearly touched, as was Howard, who says he admires Rothe’s bravery.

There are many unpleasant things in the world, but when there can be a distraction, if only for a few minutes or hours, it has to help. What a great gesture by the Red Wings and Howard to give Rothe such a wonderful evening before her life dramatically changes.

Rothe was scheduled to undergo surgery today. It's hard not to admire her courage and self-awareness at such a young age.

(h/t Kukla's Korner)

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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