***This post is not written to ask for sympathy but made purely for a public announcement. I hope that making my recent crappy situation public it may prevent someone else from having to go through it too.

“You have cancer.” Those are the words that came through the other end of my phone last summer while driving through no where, Nebraska.

I’m thirty now and I’ve gotten through life with only a few scrapes and bumps along the way. I was a kid who LIVED in the sun. Oh wait. I still do. I was the girl always at a pool, lathering baby oil on my skin and lemon juice in my hair. I was the teenager who went to the tanning beds. I always relied on my Italian genes and good luck to sneak my way around skin cancer. Guess what? IT FOUND ME.

Since living out on my own, I have always gone to see a dermatologist. I felt it was my responsibility as a professional golfer that I should do that on an annual basis. Hours from returning home from my trip to Africa in 2015, I visited the dermatologist and had a spot under my left eye frozen off, not biopsied. Years pass, the bump comes back, but different in shape and size and I move across the country to Florida. I find the best dermatologist in Tampa, get my full body scan and have the bump under my eye biopsied. Three weeks later, driving through nowhere, Nebraska is where I heard my dermatologist say those three words, “you have cancer.” I handled it fine on the phone, maybe with a bit (a lot) of disbelief. The doctor said I could finish my season out and we can “deal with it in the off-season.”

As the months went by, my emotion about it desensitized and by the time my procedure happened January 11th, I was just ready to get it over with. I really didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal. Hence why, I didn’t tell many people about it beforehand. In fact, I was more than confident that I’d be driving across the state of Florida to host a Golf Fore Africa clinic in Jupiter and play in Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel’s Pro Am In Boynton Beach a few days after the procedure…that’s the athlete (and Idiot) in me.

My MOHS procedure went like this: they numbed me up, they cut the first layer(s) out, froze it and checked it under a microscope. Full of cancer. Round two, same deal but different result…no sign of cancer! Now I’ve got a much bigger, deeper, and wider hole just under my left eye. I asked my MOHS surgeon, “So do I HAVE to go to the plastic surgeon tomorrow?” “Uh, yeah.”

The next day, my roommate, now nurse, Kristy McPherson, and I headed down to Tampa General Hospital to get settled in for what is to be my first of, hopefully no more, plastic surgeries. I was very fortunate to have a mighty fine looking doctor so I was more than calm and relaxed to have him work on me. He explained that he would have to cut out towards my nose In order to enclose one side of my gaping hole and then potentially up and around the outside of my eye and attach my skin to my eyebrow bone. If that didn’t work then he would have to cut back down and around In front of my ear. He would do all of this in order to not change my eye shape. Thankfully, he only had to cut out left towards my nose and then up and around my eye to attach the Incision to my brow bone. The unfortunate thing was that I was so calm they didn’t even allow me to get tipsy on drugs before the surgery. That’s the one thing I look forward to when it comes to surgery day but in the end It was probably for the best because I might have said something inappropriate to Doctor McDreamy.

I woke up fine from surgery, I made It home without getting sick which is a victory in itself but unfortunately I had my left eye stitched shut. He failed to tell me he was doing that. I failed to tell him I needed to host that golf clinic and play in my biggest pro am of the year in a few days. The hot doctor won out…

I ended up canceling and clearing my entire schedule for weeks because I for one, only had one working eye, and the surgery actually kicked my butt. All I wanted to do was sleep, go to the recliner and sleep, and sleep some more. I was really nauseous with one eye and felt like I was the scariest looking creature on this planet. I didn’t want anyone to see me in person for days on end other than my care-taking roommate Kristy.

My friends Angela Stanford and Dori Carter visited me in Tampa for a few days after the big Pro Am in Boynton Beach to hang out and play golf. I decided to go out to the club with them to simply watch them practice. I sat in an Adirondack chair on the driving range with a book in hand (pretending to read) while watching Stanford hit iron shots. It was a thing of beauty. I love watching that girl play golf. Yes, she was one of my first memories as a kid watching the LPGA on TV but I love her golf swing and her will to get the job done. I normally would have been hitting balls alongside her and missing out on what she was doing with the club and ball but I was really thankful that I had that time to simply just watch and take it in.

They orchestrated another big golf outing over In St. Pete with Kris Tamulis, Brittany Lincicome, and Brittany Altomare. I decided to go over and ride In a cart, read again, but this time tend flags. It was hard for me to sit back and watch but I was thankful that I felt good enough to get out and about with them. I even read a putt for Bam with one good eye and she made it! (It was a straight putt…)

Watch me on the silly juice!

 

This is a unique moment in life for me. I am being forced to be still. I am addicted to the road, to traveling, to going and going and going. I could think of this setback as a negative, how I had to cancel my outings, cancel my trip to the Bahamas for the first LPGA event of the year but I am trying my best to see it as God’s Plan of giving me much needed rest and a new outlook on things because of this experience.

We all have our insecurities but I now have so much empathy for people who may hate the way they look because I have hated the way I have looked recently. For the few times I’ve been out in public the last week, I have prayed for people not to pay an ounce of attention to me. “Please don’t look at me!” I see scary in the mirror. I see ugly in the mirror. I know my plastic surgeon was one of the best in the state and my swelling Is going to go down and my scar is going to potentially go down to nothing but It may not. It was something I had to get taken care of for the sake of my future health and I hope that from my experience people will not put off going to the dermatologist. It Is important!

I’m thankful I have a lot of time to get ready for the 2018 season now. The doctor wanted me to lay low for 6 weeks but knows that is impossible with my personality and career so I will start chipping and putting this weekend. It will have been two full weeks since surgery and will slowly get back to swinging full. I will most definitely be ready to go when the bell goes off.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Love, KD.