Some of you heard about the Ladies Draft tournament at Laurel Oak CC a few months ago. (I did my best to broadcast the result!) The story involves the plucky subject of this blog post. A recap:
Golfers at LOCC are classified by handicap: A,B,C and D. I’ve been a D for years. I’m comfortable there. Little is expected of me, and on those (relatively rare) occasions when I have a good hole, all are grateful. (I love researching and writing this blog, and am learning to play Bridge. Hence, no time to practice golf, an activity which bears an inconvenient link to improvement.)
To play in the draft, each player pays $75. The total pot is split among the winners.
This year, to even the field, I was ranked a C. Next to last on the list of C players, but still, a C. C players were team captains. In advance, captains received a list of each player’s handicap. I showed the list to my resident strategist, Burton. “Go for Jackie Lutz,” he commanded. Though new to Laurel Oak, Jackie had a handicap 4 points lower than any other A player.
Names were drawn to determine the picking order. When I drew #13, I doubted Jackie would still be available. But several C players picked a D player first (most handicap points). A couple picked their best pal.
I held my breath.
No. 13 was called. “Jackie Lutz,” I shouted.
Jackie and I conspired about our C player. Leanne Brown, she advised, was “playing better than her handicap.”
Because I was 13 first time around, I was 3rd this time. “Leanne Brown,” I shouted.
Now for the plucky subject of this post. We drew from a hat for our 4th player. Ours turned out to be Anne Welch, a 36 handicap from Michigan. (She automatically scored 2 strokes less per hole, indicated by 2 dots on her score card.) Jackie shared a cart with me; Leanne with Anne, whom she nicknamed “Double Dot Annie.”
I called our team “Lucky 13.” (I borrowed the name from my golf pal Lynne. Years ago her mega-millionaire then-husband gave her a 13-karat diamond ring.) By the end of the 2-day tournament, our Lucky 13 won by 7 strokes. We each walked away with $500 BIG ONES, plus gambling winnings.
I posted a message on FB, along with the photo holding our team winnings. “A word of encouragement for cancer survivors and caregivers… 12 years ago, in treatment for stage 4 cancer, I never dreamed I’d someday be well enough to captain the team that just won the Ladies Draft tournament.”
What I didn’t know, and learned that night at dinner from Anne Welch’s good friend, was that my teammate was also a cancer survivor. She had survived TWO bone marrow stem cell transplants for multiple myeloma. During the tournament, she’d been, as we golfers say, “in the zone,” a significant contributor to our team’s success.
I sought out Double Dot Annie to hear her story…
Anne grew up in Pleasant Ridge, MI. She married Marty, her college sweetheart from U of D (now U of D-Mercy). From 1970-76, Anne taught 2nd grade at St. Mary’s parochial school in Royal Oak, MI.
Her approach? “Lots of love and listening. If you listen, they have a lot to say.”
Anne, who calls herself “a homebody,” applied that same approach to parenting. She and Marty adopted 4 children. “I’d have had 6 if I could. I got too old.” In 2010, with kids getting married in June and September, Anne experienced back pain. After diagnosis, she chose Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital for treatment. She said to Dr. Nalini Janakiraman, who specializes in blood diseases, “Couldn’t you have given me something I’d at least heard of?”
Anne underwent a stem cell transplant, using her own stem cells. And kyphoplasty for 3 hairline fractures of her vertebrae. She made it to both kids’ weddings, though “drugged up” for the first.
19 days of quarantine and a restricted diet bought Anne 4 more healthy years. Marty, who had just retired as CFO of Visteon, a big auto supply company, was her chief caregiver. He made all the medical decisions, gave her shots and doled out her medicines. “He calls me ‘the princess,’” she says.
Anne gets tested every 3 months. (Survivors all know the anxiety those tests entail.) In 2014, a tumor was found on one of her ribs. As the hospital had saved some of her stem cells, her doctor performed a second transplant. So far, so good, thank God.
For now, Anne’s MDs, Dr. J. and Dr. Philip Kuriakose, say the best thing she can do for her bones is to get out and walk. She and Marty do so whenever they can in Bloomfield Hills, Mi, where they live in summer. And in Sarasota, FL, in winter where they live on and walk Siesta Key beach. Anne wears a Fitbit and aims for 10,000 steps a day.
Anne asked her doctor if a cure would ever be found for multiple myeloma. Dr. J’s response: “Our idea of a cure is to keep you alive ‘til you die of something else.”
Anne’s health challenge has taught her patience. And gratitude for every day. “I don’t complain as much as I used to. Even if I’m having a bad day, I find something good in it. I always used to worry about what happens next. Now I take one day at a time. When what happens next happens, I’ll deal with it.”
Anne has friends who sometimes complain about trivial problems. “I don’t say it out loud, but I think to myself: You need a crisis.”
(Thanks for sharing your comeback story, teammate. Keep hitting “em long and strong.)