Golf Australia

Luke Elvy blog: A year on, Lyle continues fightback

Jarrod Lyle
This week marks Jarrod Lyle's one year anniversary since he was re-diagnosed with leukaemia.

This week marks one year since Jarrod Lyle began his second battle against Acute Myloid Leukaemia and I’m pleased to report (via Jarrod) that it is indeed a happy anniversary.

It was at the PGA Tour event in Mexico (opposite WGC – Accenture Match Play) where he was bitten by a spider, which ultimately triggered a blood test that discovered the deadly disease had re-entered his body.

Initial predictions were not good because he had endured leukaemia in his late teens, and medical records show survival rates are low the second time around.

Speaking from his home in Torquay, Victoria, Lyle was everything you’d expect from a cancer patient who had recently received good news from his Doctor; positive, uplifting and buoyant about his future.

“My doctor had no troubles saying ‘I don’t need to see you for three months so it’s good news,” Lyle said.

My word it is, especially as he’s been going at least once a week since he was scaled back from daily late last year.

“I’m always happy if the Doctors are happy, they monitor my numbers (red blood cell count) and it’s nice to see normal numbers.”

Since news broke of Lyle’s relapse in early March 2012, the golf world has hung on every bit of news. And with every passing month, fears that Jarrod would not survive were replaced with hope. Hope that one day we will get to see this jovial character back where he belongs, on the PGA Tour.

But like us, he has to be patient.

“I’d love to be able to say I can come out and play (the PGA Tour) at some stage in 2014 but I need to work out what’s best for me. I have to get physically and mentally stronger. 2015 is more realistic.”

He did hint at a possible return later this year in the Australian events. Again, that depends on whether he’s ready for the grind of four-round tournament golf. One day Pro-Ams are more likely.

“If I go out and shoot 85 in the first round of the Australian Open, that’s not good for the confidence. I need to set little milestones, like breaking 70 before I think about playing four rounders.”

Goals are what’s keeping him focussed at the moment.

“I have a list on my bathroom mirror, a list of things I want to achieve daily, but my biggest goal is to hit one more tee shot on the PGA Tour.” He added.

Lyle isn’t back playing at the moment, he feels he’ll be able to hit balls in a month or two, but he has attended a few charity/corporate golf days. He’s enjoyed being around the game he loves and is moved by people who want to know how’s he’s doing, saying “it means a lot that people care”.

He joked that he’s hit a total of three shots since discovering he had cancer again, this time last year.

“Warney (Cricket legend Shane Warne) enticed me to hit a shot at Sam Newman’s Golf Day. I pulled driver thinking it’s got the biggest head so I can’t miss it… it went six inches!” he said laughing. “The wind must’ve moved it because I didn’t make contact. “

“I reloaded and cold-topped it 30m into a hazard so I gave it (the club) to Warney and said you have a go and he flushed it 250m down the fairway. At least I know the driver works!”

The third shot came after he found an old ball while he was out the back of his house gardening. “I picked out my 7-iron and crushed it… it’s one of the longest 7-iron I’ve hit.” At least he knows the swing is still there.

Lyle has also learned through this torrid process that he’s mentally tougher. How could he not be? Fighting cancer not once but twice, surely proves it.

“While I’m not physically fit, I’m mentally strong. I’ve learned that I’ve got an inner strength but I’ve got Bri to thank for that.

Bri is Lyle’s loving wife Briony, his rock who has been the main caregiver of not just Jarrod but their baby girl Lusi over the past 12 months.

Lusi turns 1 on March 10th, which coincides with the beginning of Jarrod’s treatment and a big party with family and friends is being planned in Shepparton, their birth place in country Victoria. “We’re delaying the party a week because Bri is shaving her head for charity (donate here but we’re going to spoil our little girl.”

What Lyle has really enjoyed over the past 12 months is showering little Lusi with love.

“Briony has started working part time and I get to look after Lusi for those days. You know, it’s one of the blessings of getting cancer, I’ve been able to spend time and share things, with my baby girl, that wouldn’t have been possible if I was on the road playing the PGA Tour. I’m really grateful for that.”

The Lyles are also planning a 1st birthday for Jarrod. It’s on June 8th, the date he underwent his bone marrow transplant - it’s what he considers his re-birth. “Mate, we’re going to have fairy bread, party pies and sausage rolls, maybe an ice-cream cake … I’m even looking at getting a jumping castle!”

He even promised me some red cordial if I attend (I’m delighted to have been invited) but it shows you where his mind is.

And while he won’t be officially out of the woods until the five-year mark is up, the man affectionately known as J Lo or Big Fella is well on the road to recovery.

“All the way through this process I’ve been ahead of the curve, but while I’ve had a few setbacks, Graft v Host Disease and a few temperatures, I’ve done better than they (Doctors) thought. I’d like to give myself a 10 but it’s more like a 7 out of 10.”

“I certainly feel like I’m getting better and getting closer to getting back to golf, which is what I do best.”

Until then, it’s more time with his two beautiful girls and less time seeing Doctors, which no matter how you look at it, it’s a win/win.

Luke Elvy has hosted Australia's summer golf TV coverage and writes exclusively for Golf Australia. His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. Follow him on Twitter - @elvisgolf

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