A year after being diagnosed with blood cancer, England’s Sean Towndrow will return to international golf next month.
The 25-year-old’s promising amateur career had to be put on pause after he was diagnosed with a rare form of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
But following a 12-month rollercoaster of treatment and recovery and, exactly a year after he put his life on hold, all his test results are looking good.
Towndrow has now been given the go-ahead to return to normal.
The Southport & Ainsdale player’s first stop will be South Africa. He will join three other internationals to represent England in four tournaments.
He’ll be playing alongside English champion Dan Brown, from Masham in Yorkshire, Josh Hilleard, from Farrington Park, Somerset, and James Walker, from The Oaks, Yorkshire.
Towndrow had been due to fly off to South Africa last year when he became ill – instead finding himself in hospital receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Keeping in touch
Throughout the year, returning to top level golf was one of his aims. He’s kept in close contact with fellow members of the England men’s squad, their manager, Kevin Tucker and England Golf staff.
He said: “Golf has been something for me to work towards and Kevin promised me that if I got back I would have a trip. That’s been the biggest thing, when you miss a year of your life you want it back. Kevin and everyone at England Golf have been fantastic.
“Everyone has been incredible. My golf club have been brilliant, all my friends have been around me all the time, cheering me up and taking me out.
“My parents were there at very single appointment I went to through the year. It’s all been phenomenal and without it you’d struggle.
“I’m so thankful for all the support, for all the text messages, emails, Twitter and Facebook – it all helps so much. When you are going through it you can read nice messages and know people are thinking of you. There are so many people to thank.”
Towndrow began experiencing tiredness and a spell of uncontrollable shivering and chest pain.
Tests revealed a tumour in his chest which rapidly grew to 10cm x 14cm and which was pushing on his heart, right lung and oesophagus.
“It took a few weeks to be diagnosed and you’re always hopeful, but in the end I just accepted it for what it was,” he added.
“The doctors and nurses were great and there were factors that were favourable to me: there wasn’t much evidence it had spread elsewhere; it was something which responds really well to treatment; I was young and fit. Everything was in my favour, that’s how I saw it.
“I don’t want to speak for everyone in that position but you find strength to cope that you didn’t realise you had. There’s always something round the corner, something to focus on and I just thought I had to knuckle down, do the best I could and hopefully come out the other side.”
England Golf arranged for Towndrow to work with a rehabilitation expert to build up his fitness. He managed to play at his club in the latter part of last season.
“Amazingly I played four competitions and managed to improve my handicap!” he laughed. “I can’t wait to get to South Africa.
“The last 12 months has been an abnormal year and I can’t wait to get away for a few weeks, playing in the sunshine with my mates, and getting back to normal.”
The four internationals will play:
– The South African stroke play championship at Kingswood Golf Estate, George; 7-10 February 2017
– The Cape Province Open at George Golf Club and Oubaai Golf Club, George; 14-16 February 2017
– The South African Amateur at Humewood Golf Club, Port Elizabeth; 19-24 February 2017
– The African Amateur stroke play championship at Leopard Creek Golf Estate, near Malelane, from 28 February to 3 March 2017
Picture courtesy of Leaderboard Photography