Following the news about Amy Mickelson’s breast cancer diagnosis, our Michael C.
Fricke offers a very personal view about the disease, the Mickelson family and Phil’s reaction to suspend his PGA Tour season indefinitely.
For PGA Tour members the ultimate prize in the sport is to walk away with one of the four major golf championships in hand. This is one yardstick by which a golfer is measured. Phil has already trotted off with three of them, but now faces a bigger and more significant challenge than competing for his fourth: Coping with the ugly reality that life often tosses our way.
His wife Amy was last week diagnosed with breast cancer. And from all corners of the world well-wishes have come pouring in: Darren Clarke, whose wife Heather died from the disease in 2006 has expressed his support. Tiger and family have also expressed their best wishes, with Tiger saying “Elin and I are deeply saddened to hear the news about Amy. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, Phil, the children, and the entire Mickelson family.” Billy Mayfair, who himself overcame testicular cancer, has expressed his support for Amy and offered his assistance in any way possible. Tens of thousands of other fans of the game and from all walks of life have also come forward with their support.
While breast cancer is the second most lethal form of cancer in women (following only lung cancer), its incidence has been on a gradual decline since 2001 and deaths as a result of breast cancer have declined steadily since 1990 (Between 1990-2004, the rate decreased by 2.2% annually. Source: American Cancer Society, 2007-2008 Breast Cancer facts and figures). Early diagnoses and intervention are linked to these declines. My sister, Laury Edwards, is a breast cancer survivor.
Amy has been one of the most visible wives on the PGA Tour. A former Phoenix Suns cheerleader, she has been seen on countless occasions as the first (save Bones) to congratulate Phil on a victory, or console him in defeat. Amy and the Mickelson children have reminded us on more than one occasion of the overwhelming power of family.
Amy met Phil in 1992 and they were married in 1996. Together they have 3 children, Amanda, 9, Sophia, 7, and Evan (6). Amanda’s birth was preceded by one of the most memorable final rounds in US Open history: Phil, carrying a pager in case Amy went into labor, watched the late Payne Stewart bury a 15 foot putt on the 18th at Pinehurst to rack up his second US Open title. Phil had openly stated that should Amy go into labor he would walk off the course immediately to be with his wife, no matter the circumstance. After the victory Payne consoled Phil telling him “Good luck with the baby. There’s nothing like being a father.” The next day Amanda was born.
Now Phil, who has always had his priorities straight, is playing the supporting role to Amy, both literally and figuratively. Without entertaining any doubt he has chosen to man-up and fulfill his role in his and Amy’s marriage. There is little doubt that his family is the one thing he takes more serious than the game of golf.
The remainder of his schedule is up in the air at this time. He missed last week’s Byron Nelson and is not playing in this this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational, where he would have been the defending champion. His status for this year’s Open is in question at this time. Should he be ready for the Open, he will return to Bethpage Black, the site of his runner up finish to Tiger Woods in 2002.
Even without a victory at the US Open, Phil has managed to leave an indelible imprint in its history. Should he play at Bethpage his overwhelming New York support will be no less fanatical, but will be even more heartfelt. From the heart of each person’s roar of support for Phil, there will be an even bigger echo for Amy.
From the staff at phil-fanatics.com, good luck Amy. May you be blessed as you deal with this obstacle.