The golfing world is mourning the loss of one of its greatest legends, Arnold Palmer, who died Sept. 25 from complications of cardiovascular disease.
Palmer was a true icon in international sports. Born the son of a greenskeeper, you could say he was destined to become one of America’s greatest golfers. He greatly influenced the future of the game. Throughout his long career on the fairways, Palmer won 62 PGA tours and 92 other tournaments worldwide.
Palmer was just as influential off the golf course. At the age of 66, “The King” of golf was diagnosed with prostate cancer, following routine PSA tests. He opted for a radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland) and then followed up with seven weeks of radiation. Palmer was lucky. Because the cancer was caught early, he made a full recovery. He then became an advocate for prostate cancer awareness and he highlighted the importance of regular PSA tests.
His passion against prostate cancer led him to lend his name and financial support to the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center, based at Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center, in Palm Springs, Calif. In 2002 he helped open a cancer research facility in his home state of Pennsylvania — the Arnold Palmer Pavilion at the Latrobe Area Hospital, in Pittsburg.
Nearly 190,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually, but more than 26,000 men die from the disease each year – a figure that advocates say could be cut dramatically if more men were screened for PSA levels. Palmer pushed for early screening and recommended that men don’t wait until turning 50 before starting the screening routine. He, who began getting annual physicals at age 30, also championed the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle to minimize risk.
Cancer played a large and sad part in Palmer’s life. Before his prostate cancer diagnosis, one of his daughters battled and won against breast cancer. During his treatment, his wife Winnie fought ovarian cancer of which she died two years later.
In his autobiography “A Life Well Played,” to be released on Oct. 11, Palmer wrote about cancer: “This is a fight that I will wage until my last breath, for Winnie, for my family, for everyone who must confront this awful disease.”
RIP Arnold Palmer.
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