The mobile rings a few times, Heather MacRae answers with a chirpy ‘hello’ and a couple of pleasantries about life’s routine, everyday occurrences are exchanged. That tends to be the normal pre-amble to a telephone interview. But then, this is not your normal interview.

Fully aware where this particular blether is ultimately heading, this correspondent awkwardly splutters some kind of clanking opening gambit to get things going. “Er, so, ahem, how’s it, er, been these last few weeks?,” I ask with the kind of clumsy muttering that is less David Frost more Albert Steptoe.

“Hell,” comes the immediate response from MacRae. That’s what cancer tends to be. And it is an on-going hell. MacRae, however, is trying her best to get on with a life that has been turned upside down.

Today, the former Ladies European Tour player from Dunblane is in Stoke-on-Trent for the 36-hole Women’s PGA Professional Championship, a title she won in 2016. Next week, she’ll be back up the road for the Tartan Tour’s Northern Open. And the week after that, she’ll compete in Paul Lawrie’s Scottish Par-3 Championship.

It’s a busy old diary. But there’s one date in that diary she doesn’t want to think about. “On June 14 I go in for surgery,” said the former British Women’s Amateur Strokeplay champion of the upcoming operation she hopes will combat the ravages of cervical cancer that was diagnosed back in March following a routine screening.

“I think I have two days off between now and the surgery. And that’s how I want it to be. I don’t want to sit around and do nothing. Being busy keeps me from thinking about what is happening. I’m not looking forward to June so I’ll cram everything in over these next couple of weeks.


“It’s been a roller coaster. The diagnosis was completely unexpected. I’d never felt fitter. But every time I would go and get results it just seemed to be one thing and then another thing and another thing.

“I had a scan four weeks ago and they told me it wasn’t as bad as they first thought. I had a couple of weeks of relief. And then I went back to Glasgow again for more checks and was told ‘it’s not great’.

“I feel like I have just been on auto-pilot for weeks. I’m expecting when, fingers crossed, it’s all done and dealt with it will hit me. Just now though you have to get on with life.

“I’ve always been a pretty strong character. You need to be as a professional golfer. But I honestly thought I would be the one who would sit in a corner and cry about this. I’ve not been like that at all, though.

“When people ask me about it I don’t mind talking about. I find it easier to deal with because it’s actually happening to me not someone else. I feel like I’m in some kind of control and can hopefully do the things than can help me.

“Obviously with this, that doesn’t always work. But at least I feel like I am trying. I’m expecting times when I will crash and have a good cry. It has happened but that is just natural and I let it happen. But I think I’ve done a good job staying focussed and looking on the positive side of things.”


MacRae’s spirit, resolve and sense of duty was best illustrated the morning after her diagnosis in March when she carried on with an initiative she was fronting at Stirling as part of International Women’s Day.

Getting the good ladies of all ages and abilities into golf is her passion. Cancer was not going to get in the way of her doing the job she loves. “I still don’t know how I got through that day,” reflected MacRae, who was a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour’s Access Series. “I was blowing up balloons to decorate the room for the golf day in between taking calls from my consultant about cancer.”

MacRae, who has established a burgeoning coaching and teaching base, knows she will have to put all of that on the backburner during her period of convalescence after surgery.

The 35-year-old has been living in the moment since her diagnosis. That’s not surprising. Cancer clouds the future with uncertainty, after all.

“Rather like golf, it’s one shot at a time, you can’t think too far ahead,” she said. “You get a bit lost if you do that. I can only deal with so much. What I do know is that I’ll not be nervous playing golf anymore.

“When you are sitting waiting on test results and scan results, that’s when you are nervous, not when you are standing on the first tee at a tournament. I still get annoyed by poor shots but they don’t worry me. It’s just golf. This is my life.”