Simon Ross analyzes path to cancer survival, taking part in Pro-Am golf

Shelton’s Simon Ross was one of three Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) advocates playing alongside PGA Tour champions as part of the annual Cologuard Classic golf event sponsored by Exact Sciences in Tucson, Arizona, the week of Feb. 21-28.

Ross, a stage III colorectal cancer survivor, father, and ostomate, was paired with Major League Baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz in the Pro-Am on Feb. 24.

“Because there were no crowds, you see everything and have access to everything and everyone,” said Ross, an active champion to fight CRC. “You walk by and see John Daly teeing off. You go to the range and Colin Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson are practicing.

“It was a Best Ball scramble. I didn’t play badly, probably to my handicap, about a 90. Nothing to special,” said Ross who added that the driver is the best club in his bag. “The way these guys hit it…That was one of the big things, seeing them swing the club. It was so smooth, so simple. Incredible to watch.”

People sent Ross messages: “I can’t believe you are getting a chance to play golf with John Smoltz?”

“I did research on John,” Ross said. “I realized I knew him as a commentator on TV. Then I read up on all his accomplishments.”

As on every golf course, for Ross and Smoltz it came down to hitting the course and talking.

“John is a really good guy, a great golfer, and I had some good chats with him. He had been over to London when the Yankees and Red Sox were playing there. We talked about the English side of things. Cricket he enjoys, a sport that is close to my heart.”

Darren Clarke is his favorite golfer.

“I guess it’s because of the Ryder Cup rooting connection. I’m from southern England. My wife Paulette is American. We met in England, got married, and moved to America. Her family is in upstate New York. We started in Stamford then bought a great a house here in Shelton,” said Ross, whose field is in executive recruitment.

Ross was 34 when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in September 2014. The chemotherapy and the radiation treatments went smoothly, but surgery in May 2015 did not go well.

“That is where what I call my fun and games began,” Ross said. “I had a temporary ileostomy (removal of large intestine) and over the next 18 months I had over 30 surgeries.”

Ross’ body couldn’t cope. He went through a hyperbaric (oxygen treatment) chamber to try and heal his wounds and scar tissue. Two attempted reversals of the ileostomy failed. Ross had to have a permanent colostomy.

Told to be strong, Ross soon found that Paulette was his rock.

“When I was first diagnosed, I had already planned a holiday,” Ross said. “The doctor asked it was necessary, a bucket list trip. Paulette told me to go, leave everything to her, and to enjoy the week.”

When Ross returned, Paulette had set up all his appointments at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She had identified the doctors he should go to.

“Paulette who would come in, stay the night, and go to work the next morning. She held us all together. We live in Shelton, she worked in Stamford at the time, and I was in New York. She was juggling all that. I was pretty useless lying in a hospital bed, but she could do all that and still give me that support,” Ross said.

Paulette and Simon welcomed twin boys, Henrik and Theodore, to the clan on Jan. 17, 2018. They are expected a third child.

“It is tough to put into words, how we felt when the boys were born,” Ross said. “It is a new chapter. You asked earlier when did I think it was time to start over. The boys became that yardstick. Yes, I have cancer, but my problems have to be put behind me. We have the boys and we must move on. We have to take care of the boys.”

For Ross there will always be Paulette’s face coming through the hospital room door.

“There is this massive sense of relief, there she is, an Angel is the right way to look at it,” Ross said. “Yes, I’m going to see you again and at same time thank goodness I need you.”

And as for that bucket list holiday Ross took in 2014?

“To circle it nicely, it was a trip to the Ryder Cup in Scotland and now it was the Cologuard Classic.”

FIGHT COLORECTAL CANCER

This will be the fourth year Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC), the country’s leading colorectal cancer advocacy organization, has participated in the Cologuard Classic. Each year, Exact Sciences works alongside Fight CRC to educate audiences on the importance of early detection of colorectal cancer (CRC) through screening, celebrate CRC survivors, and recognize those who have been impacted by the disease.

Colon and rectal (colorectal) cancers make up the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. among men and women combined. Sixty percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented with screening.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To learn about more ways to share stories of hope and encourage others to get screened, visit fightcrc.org.

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354