In the wake of Joe Frazier’s death due to liver cancer…

…from complications resulting from hepatitis and excess drinking, I thought it was the perfect time to reveal this.

I was diagnosed with hepatitis C earlier this year (April). This is something very personal that I had only confided to a few friends but decided to make it very public for an important reason. If I make my story public, I might save someone’s life.

Many of you have been asking me why I haven’t played more tournament golf with all of these grandiose stories of low rounds and better feel with my swing.

Now you know. The physical and financial strain of dealing with this problem made it difficult to play many tournaments and do well in the few I played.

Like many other viral diseases that infect the blood, it is NOT transmitted through casual contact. Basically, if I don’t share a drug needle with someone, they aren’t getting it from me. I did not pass it on to my wife.

I want to encourage everyone to have a complete physical and blood panel…just in case you have something bizarre going on with your body.

Earlier this year I applied for life insurance. They put me through a battery of tests and I got a letter back in the mail saying I was denied because I tested positive for the hepatitis C anti-body and both my liver function panels were elevated.

As I am sure you can imagine, I was flabbergasted, so I immediately went to the family doctor and he refereed me to a hematologist, but he was booked for the next 3 weeks. So, like any moron, I went to the internet and basically found out I was going to die of cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer…and even worse, the side affects of the medications were worse than death.

I also saw the two biggest risk factors are intervenes drug use and tattoo needles. Since I have no tattoos and have never shot up, I moved on to risk factor #3, which was a transfusion of blood clotting products before 1987. Well, I had a major one of those in 1982.

I guess I was lucky I didn’t get AIDS.

Here was the scary and ironic part. I had this transfusion during an elbow surgery. Just a few weeks after the surgery, I had to go to a friend’s house and look at him as he was dying of liver cancer at 15 years old that was a result of undiagnosed hepatitis. To say it was not pretty to see is a major understatement. He looked like one of the holocaust survivors. That visual is still with me to this day and it was the first thing that came to my mind when I found out I had something that could turn into cancer at any moment…and I had been walking around with it for 30 years. The ticking time bomb cliche applied.

As you can well imagine, my anxiety level was almost unmanageable until I got into the doctor as it was actually possible I had a year to live…or at the very least, would need a liver transplant and would eventually get cirrhosis or liver cancer again.

I went to the doctor and he did a battery of tests and discovered I had no serious liver damage, but my blood was infested with the virus and I should to start taking the medications immediately.

Interferon and Ribavirin are nasty. The side affects are basically anything bad you can think of, but some of the worst are depression, suicide and a 50% chance of birth defects if pregnancy occurs among either partner. Decimated white and red blood cell counts, declining hemoglobin count, compromised immune system, insomnia, nausea, hair loss, headaches, severe fatigue, etc. Basically it’s a mild version of chemotherapy.

I have 4 weeks to go of a 24 week drug regimen. I have to take a pill every morning at 8 and every evening at 8 and inject myself once a week.

Luckily, I do not have any severe side affects. My emotions were spotty here and there, I am often seriously tired, but my white and red blood cell counts didn’t plummet (they went down some, but not a dangerous amount). I have been basically nauseous, tired and irritated, 24 hours a day for the last 5 months. My body is only taking in 60% of the oxygen it normally does because of the lowered hemoglobin level. I carry my son up the stairs to put him to bed and I would be winded, bent over holding my knees. Walking uphill to a green make me want to puke (I have a few times) and the thought of playing 4 days in a row now makes me laugh.

My liver functions are now normal and the virus is untraceable in my blood at this point, so technically I am cured. I am expected to be back to normal physically within 2-4 weeks after I stop taking the medication…although most would say I was never normal to begin with.

I have never been much of a drinker and apparently, that probably saved my life as the virus might have attacked a liver weakened by serious alcohol intake sooner.

Again, I tell this story because it is bizarre and I never would have found out if I had not applied for life insurance as I have not had a full blood panel that would test for something like this.

I want everyone to make an appointment this week and get themselves checked out. I was lucky and I want to make sure I get the word out and hopefully you or someone you know can find out some bad news that is fixable.

You are thinking, “I feel fine, nothing like that will happen to me.”

I felt all of those things. Tell everyone you know to get a full check up.

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!

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21 Comments

  1. rojoass

    Blessed & lucky ? Na………I’m gonna say just blessed you are. Somebody wanted to make sure you were here. For the nay sayers……..get real. There is such a thing as being blessed. I hope blessings continue for you Monte.

    Leave the lucky part for the non
    life threatening things.
    And some folks are gonna get all stirred up over some crap Stevie said……..lol…

    http://rojoass.com/

    Reply
  2. Bob Saunders

    Thanks for sharing Monte. From a 6 year cancer survivor in Ohio.

    Reply
    • Dean

      Monte,

      Haven’t been on the site in a while. That’s great news and I wish you all the best.

      Bob,

      Where in Ohio are you? Im in Cleveland

      Reply
      • Bob Saunders

        Not far. Hinckley

        Reply
  3. woody

    Life is fragile, but it can’t be your time yet because you have an important mission to perform…cutting through the BS that’s keeping golfers down.

    Best wishes.

    Reply
  4. cdnmike

    Wow Monte. That sucks. Good luck with everything.

    Reply
  5. Steve Pratt

    Monte,

    What is nice is that the liver will grow back healthy and you will play the best golf of your life soon, God willing! Keep going.

    Reply
  6. Mike H

    ” I have been basically nauseous, tired and irritated, 24 hours a day for the last 5 months ”

    All this time I thought you were feeling this way because Tiger keeps saying his swing is “close”.

    In all seriousness take care and I am glad to hear you are getting better.

    Reply
  7. Rick Wackerfuss

    Glad you detected, treated it and seem to be on the road to recovery. Good/bad golf is quickly put into proper perspective when confronted with a major medical issue. Best wishes to you and family going forward.

    Reply
  8. Renee T

    My story is exactly like yours. I had type 2 and also cleared fast. I am glad you came out about it for people need to know.

    I found out on a routine check-up because I was feeling tired. Goes back to blood transfusion in 1983 for I was clean in other areas.

    People, go get checked!

    Reply
  9. Jason

    Thanks Monte for sharing that. It takes courage. My Dad died last year from a Heart attack and that stemmed from long term smoking and complications from diabetes (spelling?). I need to get myself checked out. Lucky I don’t smoke and drink socially every week…..but it’s not about me, I glad you are on the way to health and look forward to seeing you kick but on tour soon. In the meantime as an Aussie, I look forward to seeing the Internations kick US butt in the Presidents cup LOL…………

    Reply
  10. Wally

    Monte
    Eat some Raw Ginger Root for the nausea, Really works.
    Best of luck Wally

    Reply
  11. Paul

    Monte–all the best to you, I’m a big fan and thanks for sharing so others might be helped. Good things are coming your way in a big way. Much success and all the best to you and your family.

    Reply
  12. Jim Dunlop

    Monte

    Thanks for posting this, it’s the kind of information that people need to have. Very glad that you are almost through the ordeal. All the best, the golf world needs you.

    Reply
  13. Jarred

    Good luck buddy, glad to hear you’re feeling better! Jarred

    Reply
  14. Marc Lerner

    Monte,

    Sounds like you are over the worst of it. I have a friend that went through almost exactly the same thing, and the drugs he had to take for it really played games with his emotions, temper and the rest. But the good news is that was about 12 years ago, he got through it and has been in excellent health ever since. I’m certain you’ll have good health going forward as well.

    And once you’re healthy there’s no excuse not to make it through Q-School, even at your rather advanced age.

    Be strong, young man.

    Reply
  15. Wenis

    Wow that’s an eye opener for sure…glad for the outcome both for you & your family.

    Reply
  16. Ron

    Hearing news like this is really shocking. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully your message will reach at least one person, who will benefit from it,

    Your best is yet to come!

    Reply
  17. spanky

    Glad you had it detected and treated. Personal health is the most important thing, unfortunatly too many people (esp’ men) ignore symptons/problems that they know should be looked into.

    Wishing you good health for the future.

    Reply
  18. carrera

    Thanks for posting this. Glad you are doing well now. Wishing you all the best.

    Reply
  19. SLOGlfr

    Monte,
    Add my “thanks for sharing” to those who have expressed it already. Of all your great posts, this one is no doubt your most important.

    I had a major health scare 15 or so years ago so I know how trying it can be.

    Best of luck with continued recovery.

    Regards,
    SLOGlfr

    Reply

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