Golf: Battle against cancer

Daily Pilot

Costa Mesa resident Dave Bunnell was angry at it.

It took his father's life.

Thirty new cases of it are expected each day this year in Orange County.

It is cancer and, according to the American Cancer Society, was the second leading cause of death in California in 2007.

So Bunnell, along with 96 expected participants, arrived at Newport Beach Country Club Monday for the American Cancer Society's 20th annual Orange County Golf Invitational.

Joining Bunnell, a sales manager at Sterling BMW in Newport Beach — one of the event's sponsors — was colleague Steve Army. Sterling BMW employees asked the two to represent the company at the tournament and they were honored.

For Bunnell, it was an opportunity to do something "proactive" in the fight against the disease.

"It turns all the negative energy into a positive," said Bunnell, whose father, James, died after a 1 1/2 -year battle with lung cancer.

Corona del Mar resident and radiation oncologist Bob Woodhouse strolled the putting green prior to the round. His mother, Florence Woodhouse, died 30 years ago from colon cancer and his mother-in-law Connie Herzog is battling stomach cancer.

Woodhouse said there is hope in the fight with new classes of drugs and powerful radiation techniques.

But, he said, we still "haven't found a basic cause for all cancers."

Then there is the success story.

Ron Chamberlin, the event's chairman, had a bout with prostate cancer, but is fine. The Irvine resident gets a checkup every three months.

Corinne Castillo, marketing communications manager for the society, said the No. 1 preventative tool is getting regular screenings such as colonoscopies and mammograms.

Golf seems secondary when discussing cancer, but it provided a way to spend time outdoors with a larger goal in mind.

Cancer might not hit you or your immediate family, but there's a tug that pulls on people's hearts that they want to give something whether it's time, money, or both.

Speaking of goals, Teemu Selanne and Newport Beach resident Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks came out to NBCC.

While cancer hasn't affected Selanne's direct family, the 18th player to reach 600 regular-season goals said it's important to do whatever he can to support the fight.

"The NHL teams do what they can for cancer," Selanne said. "[Cancer] is so common these days, so [a golf event] is one of the great ways to support [steps to find a cure, provide services to cancer patients, etc.]"

The Society offers free services for patients, such as rides to and from treatment appointments and a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline.

There are glimmers of hope.

From 1988 to 2007, overall cancer incidence in California dropped 11% while overall cancer deaths in the state dropped 21%.

Female breast cancer incidence rate in California decreased by seven% during that time and the mortality rate is down 31%.

The event raised more than $2 million for cancer research in 19 years.

It bears repeating. Treasure every day.

Stuart Holland traveled to Newport Beach from Denver for the golf tournament. He lost his father, Ed Holland, to lung cancer. Stuart appreciates time spent with family.

"I learned to embrace every moment with my children," Holland said. "I want to ensure that if anything happens, their father loved and cared for them."

Woodhouse offers some advice.

"Don't take good health for granted," he said. "Do what you know is right — eat healthy and exercise."

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