Irish golf professional, Pádraig Harrington, has announced that he has undergone treatment for skin cancer. The three-time champion and father-of-two said that he has had surgery to remove sun spots from his face. Harrington’s own father, Patrick Harrington, died of cancer of the esophagus in 2005 so the announcement came with a feeling of somber remembrance.
The 42-year-old expressed in an interview with Today FM radio show, The Last Word, the importance of recognizing symptoms. He states “when you get a symptom, don’t ignore it, do something about it.” Harrington explains that clearing up any sign of trouble will help in the long run, rather than waiting until there is a big problem. This echoes his father’s loss in his battle with cancer, as it was something his father did not do. Harrington explains that it is not the nature of older men to seek treatment, especially those in Ireland.
Even though his father had symptoms, he ignored them. Harrington’s father, whose nickname was “Paddy,” worked as a Garda police officer. He was also an active athlete in his youth, playing football (soccer) for Cork, boxing and playing an Irish and Gaelic sport called hurling, which is known to be the world’s fastest gameplay sport. Harrington’s father’s untimely death apparently hit the pro-golfer hard, forcing him to withdraw from the 2005 Open Championship. Harrington, whose name is the Irish Language version of his father’s name, attributes the death of his father to his attentiveness regarding own health. Now he is “much more inclined” to get something checked if it does not seem right.
Harrington admits that he sees his doctor for regular checkups and get a full medical examination every two years. Harrington also said that he is different in that if he has any pain or suspicions about his health, he will see a doctor immediately. He also states that getting treated for cancer in 2014 is different than it was ten years ago. Now treatments can be combined to further produce positive outcomes in battling cancer. Harrington also stated “everybody responds differently to treatment” as he has witnessed in his travels around the world. Medical advances have come a long way in cancer treatment, but they can not do anything if people do not go to their doctors.
An active patron of the Irish charity, Esophageal Cancer Fund (OCF), since 2006, he volunteers to promote Lollipop Day every February, which is a day in Ireland designated for fundraising for esophageal cancer. Promoting cancer awareness is something that Harrington believes is very important as he dedicates much of his spare time to do so. In promoting cancer awareness, Harrington hopes to encourage others that may be experiencing symptoms to recognize them and speak to their doctors.
Harrington, who named his first son after his father, did not say when the treatment took place but he is still listed to play next week in the Honda Classic at the PGA National. He remains positive stating that he is fitter now than he has been in a while and states “I’ll be playing pro-golf when I am in my 80s.”
By Lian Morrison