Heather MacRae can’t wait to play Saudi International after battling to beat cancer

Scotland’s Heather MacRae is looking forward to the inaugural 2020 Saudi Ladies International event on the LET, after surviving cervical cancer
Scotland’s Heather MacRae is looking forward to the inaugural Saudi Ladies International event on the LET later this month, after beating cancer. Picture by TRISTAN JONES

SCOTTISH pro Heather MacRae celebrated International Women’s Day by sharing her cancer ordeal.

Almost exactly a year ago to the day, MacRae’s world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Since then, she has gone on to win the 2019 Women’s PGA Professional Championship – held just two weeks before her surgery.

In turn, the 37-year-old topped the points table to earn her place on the Great Britain & Ireland team for the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup against America, Canada, Sweden, which was held at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, in October.

On International Women’s Day, on March 6, MacRae is looking forward to playing on an invite in the Ladies European Tour’s inaugural Saudi Ladies International later this month.

The new event – one of four on the LET’s 2020 schedule – takes place at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, from March 19-22 – and MacRae can look forward to playing on Tour again after recovering from surgery to remove the cancer cells.

MacRae, who is attached to Gleneagles, said: “You don’t ever think this kind of thing will happen to you and it’s not something you can prepare for – or know how you will react.

“It still amazes me how I dealt with the diagnosis as it was in a week where I was hosting a couple of golf days for International Women’s Day.

“Maybe it was because I was so focused on those being a success that it didn’t properly sink in for a while.”

McRae, who plays on the LET Access Series, also believes her coaching responsibities with also helped her cope with her fight with the Big C.

Heather, who won the 2007 British Ladies Strokeplay Championship before turning pro after that summer, added: “The girls coaching I do was a great distraction for me because you just want them to see a happy, positive role model and it helped me in keeping my head up.”

And when not coaching, playing, or preparing to play was the best medicine for the Stirling golfer, who won the Scottish Girls Championship in 2001.

“After the initial diagnosis, I would always be looking to see what tournament I could play,” added Heather McRae, “so that I always had a goal or something to aim for – something to give me a purpose.

“I would practice whatever I was able to practice – sometimes it was only putting, sometimes mental skills, sometimes only dreaming about playing tournaments again.”

‘Good news’ after cancer treatment

And the good news is that after treament, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Heather MacRae.

“I had my latest check-up just yesterday, one year on from the diagnosis. It was a good result, I am happy.

“To think where I was this time last year and now I am going to be playing the Aramco Saudi Ladies International – the biggest event on the LET outside the majors this year – is quite amazing.

“I have been working so hard on my golf and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. But I am just excited to be back playing on the LET this year knowing I will enjoy every minute of it.

“Everyone faces struggles and difficult times – you can’t compare yours to anyone else’s because to you, it’s yours that affect you the most.

“You can always try to help yourself, always try and do things just a little better each day.

“Set goals, big goals, then just try and chip away at them piece by piece.

“Some days are better than others. You will achieve more, but if you can make a tiny bit of progress even on the bad days, you can get there.

But her most simple messaged was: “Don’t ever give up.”

Find out more about the field at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International by clicking here.