DU Hockey Alumnus Faces Family Cancer Battle

Photo of the Rakhshani family. Credit: Grizzlys Wolfsburg

Rhett Rakhshani, a DU 2010 all-American hockey player who played most of his pro hockey in Europe, is now facing a huge battle. His young wife Sharlene, 31, was recently diagnosed with aggressive stage four cancer. The Rakhshani family has decided to return to California (his home state) to begin Shar’s treatments, forcing Rakhshani, 34, to pause his hockey career.  The family has three young girls – Stella age six, Scarlett age four, and Georgia, age two.  

“My wife has suffered from bowel cancer which has also spread to the lungs and lymph nodes,” Rahkshani said on his Instagram page. “It’s been an emotionally tough few weeks since we got the news, having to not only process our feelings but also come up with a plan. We’ve decided to go home to California to take this fight home, where Shar wants to be. Our family will do anything for Shar and she is the bravest person I know. Her hope and faith have been inspiring. Please pray for us.”

There is a GoFundMe page set up by family members where you can join a range of fellow Pioneers and other hockey players, families and fans in supporting the Rakhshanis. Family member Joan Rakhshani reports that “Shar has already begun an innovative treatment that attacks the specific genetics of her cancer’s stem cells. This treatment is very promising but it is expensive and out of pocket. In addition to this treatment, Shar will have insurance on January 1st and shortly thereafter she will be going to a top colorectal oncologist at the City of Hope. City of Hope is one of the top cancer centers in the US and offers access to cutting-edge treatments and clinical studies.”

Sharlene is a native of Red Deer, Alberta, and is the sister of former NHL’er Paul Postma, and her sister, Alissa, is married to former NHL’er Noah Welch.

Rhett and Shar were married in 2012. Photo: Rakhshani Family

Rhett was a fan favorite during his time at DU. A fourth-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2006, he played at DU between 2006 and 2010. A skilled right winger and a gold medalist on the 2006 U.S National Junior team, Rhett’s most memorable early DU career moment came in 2007 when DU was down 2-0 in the third period at St. Cloud. Rakhshani put the Pioneers on his back and took over the game, scoring a three-goal hat trick in a five-minute span to lift DU to a 3-2 DU win.

In 2009, Rakhshani turned down an NHL offer to leave DU and instead stayed on for his senior season, where he led the WCHA in scoring, captained the Pioneers with a 50-point season, and was a first-team all-American and Hobey Baker finalist.  After DU, Rakhshani signed with the New York Islanders, where he made the AHL all-rookie team and appeared in seven NHL games with the Islanders. In 2012, Rakhshani relocated his hockey career to Europe, where he had a notable career in Swedish hockey. He won a Swedish League title with the Växjö Lakers in 2015, where he led all scorers in playoff goals with eight. In 2019, then with Frölunda HC, his league-leading 13 playoff assists helped the Gothenburg club to the SHL Championship. This season, Rakhshani played in the German League with the Wolfsburg Grizzlys and scored two goals in his final game before leaving the team and Germany for his wife’s treatment needs.

Of course, everyone here at LetsGoDU is rooting for the Rakhshahni family at this difficult time. And again, if you wish to support the Rakhshanis, go to GoFundMe.

3 thoughts on “DU Hockey Alumnus Faces Family Cancer Battle”

  1. Cancer is awful. The treatment is utterly devastating. My mother lost her battle with breast cancer two months ago. I wish things could be different for this young family. I remember watching Rhett when I was in grad school at DU 12+ years ago. My prayers for this Pio family.

  2. I used to talk to Rhett’s dad when he flew up to Denver to watch his son play for us. He used to like to stand up in the side aisle in the student section. He said that gave him a good angle view of the shots on goal. Great family.

    They have my prayers

  3. Really sorry to hear this. Best wishes to the entire Rakhshani family as they navigate these very difficult times.

    I remember Rhett very well from his days as a Pioneer. He was a terrific player and a very productive one (151 points as a Pioneer). He and Tyler Ruegsegger were always a lot of fun to watch together on those DU teams in the old WCHA.

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