Walk­ing on the wild side for cancer

Nick Ed­mund takes high road af­ter di­ag­no­sis.

Irish Independent - - Tee To Green - By Brian Keogh

IF you’re trav­el­ling from Car­rig Is­land to Bally­bunion to­day and won­der why there’s a mid­dle-aged man strid­ing slowly south with a set of golf clubs on his back, spare a thought for a re­mark­able hu­man be­ing and any­one you’ve ever known to have been touched by cancer.

It’s English­man Nick Ed­mund, who for 15 years was Nick Faldo’s right-hand man at Faldo Golf De­sign, com­plet­ing the sec­ond half of his epic, 2,000 km walk along the Wild At­lantic Way from Malin Head to the Old Head of Kin­sale.

He’s not in­sane (or even righthande­d) by any means but a left-han­der try­ing to deal with his own neck and head cancer di­ag­no­sis as best he can while also con­tin­u­ing to pro­mote a world­wide char­i­ta­ble cam­paign called ‘Global-Golf4-Cancer’.

“It takes such great ef­fort when you are suf­fer­ing your­self to do some­thing for oth­ers and raise money for the fu­ture,” Nick Faldo said last year. “What a great, gen­er­ous ges­ture by Nick to go off and walk all over Ire­land to cre­ate aware­ness.”

Global-Golf4-Cancer is an aware­ness and fundrais­ing ini­tia­tive, which in Ire­land is sup­port­ing Gal­way­based char­ity, Cancer Care West. And it’s al­most a mir­a­cle that he’s com­plet­ing the sec­ond half of his great odyssey at all.

With his right parotid gland and the lymph nodes on the right side of his neck re­moved, he set off last spring and com­pleted the first half of his walk as sched­uled – stop­ping at 20 clubs along the Wild At­lantic Way from Malin Head to Gal­way to play the fourth hole and de­liver a ‘Global-Golf4-Cancer’ aware­ness flag for the club to fly the flag pe­ri­od­i­cally on that hole.

His plan was to rest in the sum­mer and com­plete the sec­ond half of the Wild At­lantic Way last au­tumn, walk­ing a fur­ther 1,000kms from Gal­way to Kin­sale.

But his plans were thwarted when a new cancer di­ag­no­sis re­quired him to un­dergo four weeks of ra­dio­ther­apy treat­ment fol­lowed by nine-and-a-half hours in surgery to re­place his scalp with a graft from his left thigh.

Most peo­ple would have put their walk­ing boots and golf clubs away for good af­ter such an or­deal but the 57-year old from Ex­eter would not give up on his quest.

“I was de­ter­mined any­way, but if any­thing the new tu­mour made me more de­ter­mined not to let it beat me,” he said as he rested in Kil­keel ear­lier this week hav­ing just com­pleted the jour­ney from Lahinch to Doon­beg and Span­ish Point.

“It re­ally did seem like un­fin­ished busi­ness. Af­ter ra­dio­ther­apy didn’t work and I had to have surgery to re­move this more ag­gres­sive tu­mour in my head, I won­dered if the walk was go­ing to be pos­si­ble at all. So I set the date for 4 March and it gave me some­thing to work to­wards.”

Walk­ing the roads of Ire­land is not easy at the best of times and one can only imag­ine the chal­lenge it presents when you’re re­cov­er­ing from cancer and have to walk 20km a day with a set of golf clubs on your back.

“They slow you down a bit, but if I was just walk­ing it wouldn’t re­lay the message,” he said. “I have never been a big walker ei­ther and had trou­ble just walk­ing down to the train sta­tion be­fore I fell ill.

“But it is mind over mat­ter and there are so many pluses. Not only do I get to cre­ate aware­ness of ‘Global-Golf4-Cancer’, I get to see the mag­nif­i­cence of the Wild At­lantic Way and re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of Ire­land. You see a lot if you are driv­ing, but you have time to take in so much more on foot – the walk from Louis­burgh to Leenane and then on through Con­nemara was just so stun­ning.”

A cheap and cheer­ful B&B and hearty break­fast is all he needs to steel him for each stage of his trip and with the ‘Global-Golf4-Cancer’ flag flut­ter­ing in his bag – he car­ries just a driver, a 4-iron, a 9-iron and a put­ter – quizzi­cal looks

from the peo­ple he meets along the way quickly fade to know­ing nods and chats.

“By the end of this year, the flag will be fly­ing in 20 coun­tries on some in­ter­est­ing fourth holes around the world,” said Nick, who had the idea for ‘Global-Golf4-Cancer’ be­fore he fell ill him­self.

“So it has given me a tar­get. And I have al­ways had a very bright out­look on life any­way and I find it very re­ward­ing, meet­ing peo­ple and see­ing places is some­thing that would not have hap­pened if I had sat back and been mis­er­able.”

His links with Ire­land are long-stand­ing and it was he who first fell in love with Bal­lylif­fin, en­cour­ag­ing Faldo to visit a club he once tried un­suc­cess­fully to buy be­fore mak­ing great friends there and agree­ing to re­design the fa­mous Old Links.

“It’s ironic that Bal­lylif­fin was the first course where we raised the flag,” he said. “The last one will on the iconic 4th at the Old Head of Kin­sale with the light­house in the back­ground on May 4.”

As he heads through Kerry and Cork, he’s got time to think of all that’s hap­pened to him and thank the likes of Failte Ire­land, the IAGTO, North and West Coast Links, SWING and Cancer Care West for help­ing him on his way.

“I won’t deny it’s has been a dif­fi­cult few months,” he said. “But I didn’t imag­ine for one minute that I might not be re­turn­ing to the west coast of Ire­land.

“For one thing, it is an ex­traor­di­nar­ily beau­ti­ful place, and from the far north of Donegal to the most re­mote corners of Con­nemara I have al­ways re­ceived an in­cred­i­bly warm wel­come.

“More­over, it be­came clear to me that cancer has touched the lives of so many of the peo­ple I’ve met along the Wild At­lantic Way that I feel I owe it to them, as well as the golf clubs and count­less in­di­vid­u­als who have been help­ing and en­cour­ag­ing me, to com­plete this jour­ney.”

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the Wild At­lantic Way 4-Flag Cam­paign, please visit www.glob­al­go­lf4­can­cer.org

Nick and his clubs on an in­spir­ing jour­ney along the Wild At­lantic Way for cancer char­ity

Nick re­ceives a cheque from Gal­way Bay Golf Club

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