After fight with cancer, UMKC golfer returns to compete on the course

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overcoming the elements and the golf course Sunday was certainly a challenge for the players. But how about overcoming cancer?

UMKC golfer Sam Humphreys can laugh now, but last summer was no laughing matter.

“Me and my dad were on the range hitting some balls and we’re about done,” Humphreys said. “I stepped on the face of the 9 iron and it hit me in a bad spot.”

The pain he experienced was much more than the normal type of pain. After fighting through a tournament, the next week he went back to the doctor.

“The specialist looked over my stuff and told me you have a mass, and that you basically have cancer,” Humphreys said. “Whole life kind of turns upside down. Probably done more praying than I’ve done in that 24 hour span.”

And why the 9 iron was good luck?

“My mass is only 2.5 centimeters and I wouldn’t have felt it until it was five. When I stepped on the 9 iron it came up and traumatized me right in the tumor that’s the only reason I felt it.”

He would have felt 5 centimeters right around last month.

“Who knows where it would have spread if it would have waited to now to show itself, so I consider it like a miracle, Humphrey’s said.  “Live like I should have died yesterday.”

Humphreys began recovery efforts, four rounds of chemo.

“It’s the worse feeling in the world.”

Then bad lymph nodes forced him to take the semester off.

“My saving grace was drinking pickle juice cause I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up.”

And then trying to recovery his game.

“The first thing we wanted to do is make sure that Sam is okay,” UMKC head golf coach JW Vandenborn said. “You kind of feel back and forth you know, feeling badly for Sam that he’s lost that time and his senior year. But he and his family were so positive it’s hard not to jump on that wave with them.”

“The full swing came back kinda faster than I thought it would,” Humphreys said.

“He would go to chemo in the morning and then he’d be out texting us photos of him practicing or videos of him chipping at 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon,” Vandenborn said. “So, if that doesn’t motivate you to realize that what you’re dealing with is pretty insignificant. If he’s able to go back and put that time and effort and wanting to be back with the team. That’s a big motivator for us.”

Humphreys will go on to finish school this semester but he hasn’t played a tournament since June. But this past week, he returned to a competitive tournament for the first time in nearly a year.

“It felt good being able to feel more and more normal,” Humphreys said. “I just didn’t realize that so many people cared and I have so many good friends and you couldn’t get through something like that without them.”



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