I am a survivor and I’m good at that I am a Golfer and I am very very bad at that but what I have noticed is that there are a number of similarities inherent to both that for anybody thinking of taking up the game, or more pertinently for this blog, dealing with Cancer might find useful.
Golf is a game for all ages, young and old, male and female. It doesn’t discriminate between athleticism or indolence, intelligence or ignorance it is playable by all, in the same way that Cancer really doesn’t care who it attacks it’s an equal opportunities disease. Accept that it’s not you it’s the disease and that’s a good starting point for your battle to come. Also according to Wiki (so must be true) there are approx. 28 million Golfers in the world which is the same number of people who are living with Cancer around the world.
Knowledge is Power
You don’t know what to expect on a new course, how long does it play? How bad is the rough? What hazards are there? In the same way that going into treatment for Cancer is daunting and you have no idea what to expect. In Golf you’d get a course guide so you can get information before you swing at your first ball. Cancer is no different there are some great resources available before you start your treatment that will explain what’s going to happen and in the case of Cancer like Golf knowledge is power.
Some would argue that one of the joys of Golf is its lack of predictability; they are wrong. Even the simple holes are challenging on the more difficult courses and depending on your state of mind a 2ft putt for par can seem like the most difficult proposition when yesterday you rolled it in from ten feet. The most frustrating thing with Golf is that what worked yesterday doesn’t seem to work today; I could hit it straight yesterday why do I have a hook today. The same with Cancer, on treatment it would be great if the symptoms stayed the same day to day week to week but no, there is an inherent variation to the patterns of how you’re feeling that make it so difficult to feel the same day to day. Which makes the answer to the question: “How you feeling?” so difficult to answer every time honestly every time.
Persistence pays off
Whether it’s a 600 yard par 5 that seems to take forever with no end in sight or a dog leg that means you’re playing blind, no idea what’s to come or what perils lie in your way in both instances if you want to get to the end you are going to have to go through over or round but to get to the green you’re going to have to deal with them. There will be days in the Cancer battle that you feel like you’re never getting there but you will get there, it may take you a long time and it may ruin your score card that day but you will get there in the spirit of “All things will pass” and one bad score does not make a handicap.
Local knowledge is king
Get a Caddy, someone that knows the course, knows the pitfalls and knows what’s going to happen. In the case of your treatment there are people who have been through the same thing and will happily talk to you about it, guide you through it like at Immerman’s Angels. http://www.imermanangels.org or LIVEStrong http://www.livestrong.org The medical community is also full of wonderful caring people who will guide you through it so ask and listen to the people that know what’s ahead. They only want you to have the best round you can and are happy to help.
Two’s company and three’s a support network
For me one of the most enjoyable things about Golf is that it is the only environment where there are no raised eyebrows after introducing yourself as a one ball. However that is a lonely way to play Golf so if you can play your round with people whose company you enjoy, they’ll keep you sane through all the ups and downs of your 18 holes and share the pain with you. So if you have a support network of friends and family around you, use their strength in the same way they will use yours but do remember your treatment has an effect on your support network, they may not be going through it personally but they’re living every single painful gut wrenching shot that you are.
Tiger Woods would no more expect to play his best round with a hickory shafted dibber than you would expect the treatments that were used in the 1960’s to be as good as what is available today. The breakthroughs in Golf technology have made longer straighter driving possible for every person in the same way that the medicines available now to treat Cancer and to manage the side affects of those treatments are changing survival rates dramatically. However technology is not good enough to swing our clubs for us or to put it in the hole you still need the human for that and the same with Cancer, new medicines help but it is you that will make the treatment and the game what it is.
A sense of humour REALLY helps
When playing Golf and when going through Cancer a sense of humour is essential, there’ll be good shots, bad shots and shots that defy any reason but they will all happen and a smile is sometimes the only way to get through. Trust me on this one, both as a survivor and a golfer some days there will be days when if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.
I hope this helps either your game or someone you know dealing with Cancer, please feel free to share it to anyone who you think it might help.