Shaun Holland is just one every day South Australian with a passion for golf who has made the commitment to tee off to support a cancer free future this December with Cancer Council’s The Longest Day, for three very special reasons.
After seeing an ad for Cancer Council’s The Longest Day, Shaun signed up to play an epic 54 hole in one day at Mawson Lakes Golf Club with the aim of raising $1,440—a goal which he exceeded in just one week. For Shaun, whose family has felt the impact of a cancer diagnosis countless times, making the commitment to take part in The Longest Day and raise funds for Cancer Council SA’s vital services and programs was ‘a no-brainer’.
“This will be my first year taking part in The Longest Day but once I saw the ad, I was drawn in to take part because of my sister, mother and stepfather,” Shaun explains.
“I lost my sister to cancer young due to undiagnosed Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). When she was finally diagnosed, it was a two-year journey from her first diagnosis to her passing. In that time, she got married and had two daughters who have sadly both inherited the same condition—one of my nieces who is 21 has already had half her bowel removed as a preventative measure.
“Then there is my mum. In 2013 she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—stage 4, not curable but manageable with chemotherapy and other treatments. We thought she was on top of things, but in 2021 she found a lump in her groin. She got it checked and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stage 3. She was told it’s extremely rare to have both types. She went on to have the lump removed and a CAT scan done which found four cancers in other places, the main one being in her spleen.
From there she had 12 lots of chemotherapy and 15 of radiotherapy. Finally, she was told she was in remission, but when she was going through the treatment she got pneumonia too—the hits really kept coming. So now, she has just 60 per cent lung function which has a huge impact on her health.
To add to it all, while mum and the family were going through all of that, my stepdad was going through his own cancer diagnosis. He had found a really small lump in his throat, within seven days it was the size of a golf ball. He was told it was a secondary cancer on the parotid gland. He faced surgery and 33 lots of radiotherapy to treat it which has left his whole jaw dead. The doctors told him how lucky he was to have had the treatment when he did, a few more days and they said it would have been a completely different story,” Shaun says.
The impact cancer has had on Shaun and his family has been huge. Time and time again he has seen first-hand the impact of cancer and the toll treatments have taken on his loved ones. And, through The Longest Day he aims to make a difference and support other South Australians families facing a cancer diagnosis.
“I want to make it easier for other families. Lots of families can’t afford cancer, treatment and what comes with it. If I can assist any way financially, that’s what I want to do.
When I signed up, my mindset was, if I raise even just $40, it’s $40 that someone impacted by cancer is better off. Every dollar helps. That’s why I set my goal for $1,440 – it pays for two lots of financial support,” Shaun says.
As well as setting himself the challenge to take on 54 holes of golf in one day and raise $1,440, Shaun has also committed to walking every hole.
“I certainly know it will be a challenging day. We worked out I’ll be walking around 26 kilometres over the day—and yes, I’ll be walking it all. The reason for that is I want to feel the fatigue and mental challenge that I’ve seen my family go through in their cancer treatments. That’s the driving force for me because I have seen it first-hand too many times.
A lot of people have been telling me they think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but I think I’m a mentally strong person and I have the drive and want to push through and complete the challenge. I’ll do It, I will walk the whole distance. I know I will,” he says.
Shaun will be teeing off with his son, and some friends on Friday 16 December and hopes that other South Australians join him in taking part in The Longest Day—however they can.
“I would encourage others to get involved. Not only the event and what you raise that makes a difference, it’s about the conversations it’s opening up, it’s about the people you’re helping and that gives me so much pleasure,” he explains.
“It’s all very emotional, it makes me emotional. But I hope that my story will inspire other golfers to get out there, to share their stories and to make a difference through participating in this year’s The Longest Day.”
Shaun is already looking to raise his already achieved fundraising goal to a massive $4,000, a goal he is hoping to achieve with the support of his workplace and Mawson Lakes Golf Club.
You too can tee off with The Longest Day just like Shaun and support Cancer Council SA’s prevention, research, support and advocacy programs. Register, find out more or donate here. Come join the par-tee!