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The Cancer Clinic*

During the last five years, I have become a regular at the Cancer Clinic, a wing of a prominent hospital in the city of Toronto. At first I did not really think I was sick because I was feeling well and in a state of denial. Eventually, reality set in. Many of the other patients wore conspicuous head coverings indicating that they were undergoing chemo treatment. They were often accompanied by husbands, wives or sons or daughters for emotional support. The cancer clinic is always a beehive of activity with people of all walks of life undergoing tests and waiting to see their respective doctors.

At first I did not really think I was sick because I was feeling well and in a state of denial. Eventually, reality set in…

The routine is the same for most of us. After checking in with a receptionist, we are ushered to the blood lab where, in my case, five vials of blood are taken. We wait till our number comes up. When it’s my turn the female Jamaican technician shouts: “Gohhhdon” as if there is no “R’ in my name. It took a while before I caught on.

After the blood sample we wait and wait for our turn to meet with our doctors. In the meantime we mix and mingle with our fellow patients. Some do puzzles or read books and there is even a basket of knitting stuff. Every once in a while someone will pick up the needles and do a few rows of stitches to pass the time.

Away from the hospital I rarely discuss my condition with friends and family. They seem at a loss as to how to deal with it but at the Cancer Clinic we are all in the same boat to a final but uncertain destination and we exchange medical information freely. It’s a form of therapy.

Away from the hospital I rarely discuss my condition with friends and family. They seem at a loss as to how to deal with it…

During my last visit I found myself seated next to an elderly couple. They were holding hands and I asked what treatment she was taking. Reluctantly she responded that she had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and then tears welled from her eyes. I placed my arm around her and she stopped crying but no words came forth. There was no need to explain.

cancer_clinicEach time I visit the Cancer Clinic, I pause at the entrance and look at the sign over the doors. It took a few years but I have now come to accept that the big “C” in cancer applies to me just like all the other patients.

*CMML, the disease with which I am afflicted, is a blood disorder commonly known as chronic leukemia. It is a relatively rare disease. Only about one person in 100,000 gets it, which means that more than likely I am the only GCSAA member suffering from it.

15 Responses to “The Cancer Clinic*”

  • JoAnn Otto:

    Cancer seems pervasive in the golf course industry. When he was first diagnosed, my husband, Wayne, looked back on his career and wished he’d been more careful with pesticides and chemicals. He died of pancreatic cancer almost 5 years ago. My son is now in the golf course industry, following after his dad’s footsteps.

    I wish you well and I hope you have a bright future.

  • Hello Gord. I enjoy reading your different comments.I know life is not always fair but what can you do but except it. You will be looking forward to going to Florida, weather will be starting to cool off a bit down there. You will be able to get some rounds in. We are closed up here and will soon blowing out the pipes. Bye for now. Dave.

  • Bob Quaif:

    Hi Gordon. We met at the Normanside Country Club near Albany a few years back. I’m sorry to here you’re still battling your disease. Although prostate cancer is highly curable,you don’t know all that until after talks with your doctor and have done a lot of reading on the subject. I was devastated and even cried a bit when I was diagnosed with it. It’s now 3 years later and I’m among the lucky survivors of a very curable disease as long it’s caught early. I tell everyone to get that blood drawn for psa’s,and to forget how embarrassing it may seem to get that “finger” test. It’s worth every embarrassing moment. Do well,Gordon,and I hope to meet you again some day.

  • Bob – Of course I remember meeting you. You are the best known mechanic in North America. Tiger Woods’ father died of prostate cancer. It’s a slow one. Leukemia is quicker. As we get older, we learn to accept fate with resignation.

    Good luck to you.


  • Jim Prusa:


    I was snooping aroound the web and came across your article. Well done. How the heck are you after more than a few years? I ran into some of our mutual friends at a golf conference in Kuala Lumpur — I am an Asia rat these years.

    Anyway, hope to see you soon sometime. Let me know if you ever trek to Asia — it is where the future of the game is being grown.

    Very best regards,

    Jim Prusa
    Kobe, Japan