Padraig Harrington is receiving medical treatment for a repeat incident of skin cancer. The Rathfarnham, Dublin, native is once again using the incident as an opportunity for campaigning for cancer awareness. Harrington, 42, has dealt with skin cancer before and is a constant advocate for changing attitudes, especially in Ireland, about the disease.
Harrington’s own father died of esophageal cancer, after being slow to deal with the illness, which was a major blow to Harrington. As a result of the slow response his father had to deal with a much more advanced condition when he did finally seek out treatment. Padraig believes there is a culture in Ireland in older men not seeking treatment. Whether this culture is due to seeking help being perceived as a weakness, or a lack of belief in the effectiveness of treatments is uncertain, but Padraig is speaking out again because he wants change. Having been brought up and coached in golf by his father, Patrick, it was massive blow to Harrington when he died. The loss of his greatest supporter, and most competitive opponent, was a deeply sad occasion for Padraig back in 2005.
Padraig Harrington has revealed that he has had a series of “sun spots” removed from his face by a dermatologist. Although generally totally benign, small brown spots often form on the skin when it is exposed to high levels of sunshine. The underlying mechanism is that the skin can produce too much melanin in certain area and a brown spot forms. Generally it is unnecessary to act unless the spot is changing size and shape, but with Padraig Harrington’s previous experiences with skin cancer, he is now taking a very pro-active approach to any potential issues and repeats.
Harrington, who has won the British Open twice, and the US PGA championship once, withdrew from The Open on the eve of the event in 2005 when his father died. The golfer said: “Dealing with cancer is not what it was 10 years ago. Instead of just one treatment they are now looking at combining different types of treatment of dealing with esophageal cancer.” Padraig’s skin cancer battles have made the news before when he was public about treatments in 2007 and 2009. As a married man with two young children Padraig is obviously motivated to be around as they grow up, having dealt with cancer at a much younger age than his own father.
Brown spots on the skin can be easily assessed by visiting a Doctor, such as a General Practitioner (GP), or skin specialist, a Dermatologist. Although a rarer form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma is the deadliest form, and needs relatively fast diagnosis for the best potential outcome. However, there are a number of possible treatment paths, and this flexibility is something Padraig wishes to raise public knowledge of.
Formally third-ranked golfer in the world, Padraig has not won a major since 2008, but is still considered one of the sport’s top players. He is expected to be taking part in the Honda Classic, at the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where he won his first career PGA Tour title in 2005. Going forward Padraig Harrington is hoping for no more skin cancer repeats.
By Andrew Willig