Thursday, June 4, 2009

Letter to Phil Mickelson

Letter to Phil Mickelson from Doug Kelly of the Myrtle Beach Herald concerning his wife's breast cancer diagnosis.

Dear Phil,

As your fans, we were sad to hear that your wife Amy has been diagnosed with breast cancer.After checking with an expert, I wanted to endorse your decision to set golf aside and tend to your wife and family.Nearly 25 years ago, I was a senior at Sumter High School and had just acquired, through attrition, the position of No. 1 man on the SHS golf team. Our best golfer and my good buddy Jason was moving away as his Air Force pilot father had just been transferred to another base. My game was much like it is today, streaky at best, but it was all I had to lead our rag tag fugitive fleet of golfers against other midlands schools.My parents were just a few years older than you and Amy back in the middle 1980s. That’s when the news came in that mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. As a 17-year-old kid, I recall never being worried about Mom’s prognosis. At 17, everyone seemed invincible and the lady who had brought me into the world at 10 pounds, 2 ounces and now had to two babies over 6 feet tall could surely whip cancer.In 2009, my mother’s cancer would have probably been treated differently. Chances are radiation and chemotherapy would have been used. But back in 1986, when I believe doctors to have been using sharpened stones and voodoo hexes, the decision was made to move forward with a mastectomy. After the radical surgery, recovery was tough. Post hospital time, mom was laid up in bed at home for a month and was moving slowly for months more. While healing, doctors had told mom not to use her arms. That was more of a rhetorical, as she couldn’t move anyway.Think about how we use our arms and what it’s like to lose their use even for a few minutes.You need help with everything, from brushing your hair and teeth to other things that we are all accustomed to doing ourselves.That’s where you taking time off from the tour comes into play. Mom once told me that she appreciated dad letting the Air Force fly itself for a while and helping her with the things you only want those closest to you doing.I remember some light duty including helping her sit up in bed. After driving me around for 17 years, it was my turn to return the favor.I am thankful to the great doctors at Duke who saved my mother’s life. I almost feel guilty for rooting against Duke in most basketball games.I hope Amy’s treatment will not be as drastic and recovery less intense.The expert I mentioned at the beginning of the column is my mother. By the time you read this I will have returned from her 70th birthday dinner at Rudy’s on Ram Cat Alley in Seneca.Mom beat cancer and so can Amy. It was nice of the guys to wear pink and pink ribbons last week and the PGA tour will still be there when the time is right. More fans than you’ve ever had will be waiting on you when you return. Even after your time off with less practice, you’ll play better because you’ll appreciate it more.

-Doug Kelly, Myrtle Beach Herald