Most of us have the same reaction to painful situations in life: we ask some version of the question, “Why?” But can you imagine having something terrible happen to you…and being incredibly thankful for it as a result?
Kathleen Murphy can.
On a beautiful June morning at Exmoor Country Club just outside Lake Forest, IL, Kathleen Murphy teed it up with some female friends to help take her mind off all the details surrounding her son’s wedding. She was in the unenviable position of having to help her future daughter-in-law with the wedding plans because the bride-to-be had recently lost her mother to cancer. So even though it was the middle of the summer, this June outing was Murphy’s first round of the year.
And it would prove to be a life-changing one.
On the 16th hole, a long par 4, Murphy’s tee shot found the fairway, as did her playing partners. She was first to hit, so she reached for her trusty 3-wood. She hit it solid, but pulled it about 15 yards left of the green, into some thick rough. Not wanting to delay the pace of play, Murphy got a head start on the rest of her foursome by walking just off the fairway toward the green.
Behind her, one of her playing partners, Lois Burns, also selected a 3 wood. But instead of hitting a pure shot, she shanked it, and the ball slammed into the back of Murphy’s head. Recalling the story 6 years later for an article in Golf Digest, she says, “I can still remember how the sound exploded in my ears.” Not being one usually given to tears, Murphy confessed weeping was her only possible reaction to the pain.
Fortunately for her, Highland Park Hospital was at the end of the street, so Kathleen’s quick-thinking friends delivered her to the ER…in a golf cart!
The CAT scan and MRI answered Murphy’s question: there was no damage done to her skull or brain. But the doctors had several questions: “Have you had any headaches lately? Ever get bouts of dizziness?” And so on. That’s because those same scans revealed a tumor that had been growing on Murphy’s brain for at least 15 years. In fact, it was the size of an apple, and was beginning to make her brain swell because of the pressure it was causing.
The doctors said a stroke was imminent; in fact, they couldn’t explain why it hadn’t happened yet!
She was prescribed surgery as soon as possible. So, after two weeks of taking steroids to prepare for the operation, Murphy was rolled into an 8 ½ hour surgery. The tumor was removed, she recovered fully, and 6 weeks later, she walked down the aisle at her son’s wedding, followed by a beaming bride.
Murphy is alive and well today, and aside from a small blind spot on her left field of vision, she suffered no lasting effects from the tumultuous ordeal. She’s remained cancer free, and is expected to live a full and healthy life.
That is why Kathleen Murphy is thankful for that painful experience on the golf course years earlier.
“A Round I Won’t Forget.” Golf Digest, November 2010, Page 22.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)