PGA Tour player and North Texas resident John Senden and his family faced a worst-case scenario in 2017, when their then 13-year old son, Jacob, was experiencing severe headaches and was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“It put me in a new perspective for life really,” said Senden. “Now trying to go out there and play and take the pressure off... just go out there and play, because what’s the worst that can happen?”
“He was knocking on heaven’s door for a day or two because of the severity and seriousness of this brain tumor. They actually saved his life. The first surgery was hard to clear the brain fluid, a buildup that was causing the pain. After that, he really wasn’t going so well either. He was really lucky to survive the first night,” said Senden.
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Jacob survived and continued to thrive, determined to maintain a positive attitude while being treated at Children’s Health in Dallas, and using his free time to become a master at solving Rubik’s Cubes.
“It was one of the tournaments that dad was playing at when I first started using it,” Jacob said. “I brought it with me for fun because I was supposed to be doing summer reading then.”
“I think it was good to keep the mind busy,” said Jacob’s mother, Jackie. “He had hundreds of Rubik’s Cubes and people were so great sending Rubik’s Cubes in different shapes and sizes. It kept the mind busy.”
And PGA Tour players stayed busy showing their support of Jacob by wearing Rubik’s Cube pins on their shirts during tournaments and sending encouraging notes to John in his extended absence from the Tour while with his son.
“You think you’re so alone, locked in that little hospital room,” Jackie said. “You felt like you’ve been removed from the world. But then, to see people show their support was really overwhelming.”
Overwhelming support and now guarded optimism, as doctors are thrilled with the progress in the treatment of Jacob’s cancer, allowing him to do more every day.
“Being sick and not being able to walk and do activities to now being able to walk 18 holes, drive a car, it’s been pretty good honestly,” Jacob said.
And good enough to allow John to feel comfortable rejoining the PGA Tour about a year ago, now preparing to return with the rest of the top players in the world at the Charles Schwab Challenge, but keeping new perspective on the game he loves and the blessings in his life he will never take for granted. “There are so many things that happened during this time that gave us the vision and the light at the end of the tunnel to keep fighting for this, to get Jacob healthy again.”