Written by
Mark Lamport-Stokes
Apr 26 2024
- 4 min
Schwartzel, wife committed to raising breast cancer awareness

ADELAIDE, South Australia – 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is well aware of the wonderful opportunities afforded by playing golf at the highest level. Once in a while, though, something can happen which makes all of that feel very trivial.

For Schwartzel, that something occurred just eight weeks ago when his beloved wife Rosalind was diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 39. Thankfully, that diagnosis came early enough and treatment is now well underway with the overall prognosis looking good.

Consequently, both Rosalind and Charl are now determined to make their personal ordeal count: by doing their very best to raise breast cancer awareness globally as much as they can.

"Rosalind feels like if she could save just one person's life by getting them to go for a check-up early, then that is a big win," Charl said. "She wants to create an awareness for all women. Everybody has got a mom, and most men have wives or sisters, so everybody in some way will maybe get affected by it. So, if there is a way to make people aware of going for their checkups and if you catch cancer early, your survival rate or success rate is just tremendously higher. That's what Rosalind wants."

During the build-up this week to LIV Golf Adelaide, Charl and his fellow South African Stinger GC teammates, plus the caddies and the entire team management, all shaved their hair to stand in solidarity with Rosalind (see photo above).

To commemorate that joint decision, Stinger GC posted on Twitter: "In support of the amazing Ros Schwartzel and all women around the world with cancer. If you want to show your support and join us, please send in your photos/videos of you shaving your heads and we will be posting them to help raise further awareness and hopefully save lives."

Accompanying that Twitter post was a video, which began with Charl sitting in a barber's chair prior to shaving off his own hair. Moments before he got to work with the razor, Charl said: "We're doing this in support of my wife. She has been incredibly strong with her treatments for breast cancer and the Stingers are showing their support. As her husband, I love her very much. She's a rock. Here we go."

Charl and Rosalind began dating in 2008 and got married in 2010. By some distance, Rosalind's breast cancer diagnosis has been the toughest challenge they have faced together as a couple.

"This is stuff that affects your life," said Charl, a 39-year-old from Johannesburg who will forever remain in the history books as LIV Golf’s first individual tournament champion, having won the inaugural 2022 event in London. "Sport can provide great opportunities to make people aware of these sorts of things but it's just something that you do as a living. The breast cancer diagnosis is real life, it's real life."

Asked how his wife was holding up emotionally and mentally, Charl replied: "It was a real shock in the beginning, when we found out. She's young, she's under 40 and it's not something you really think about, so it was really a shock. But she's been so strong and so positive and everybody around her has shown so much support and love, and it's going really well.

"As a team, we all cut our hair because of her... her hair will mostly all fall out in the next week or two. It's getting really thin now, and we did it just to support her and start showing some awareness of it."

The very same day that Stinger GC's Twitter post was published to showcase the team buzzcuts, Rosalind shared her own experience on Instagram in a bid to raise breast cancer awareness.

She described how, last November, her 4-year-old son had been playfully wrestling with her and, by accident, hurt her left breast after jumping on her.

"I was quite injured so, a couple of days later, our amazing nurse practitioner Amanda suggested that I go for an ultrasound," said Rosalind. "The doctor came in to say to me that the left breast was perfect, 100 percent, but they had found something in the right breast. He said it was still small at the time and we should just keep an eye on it and I should come back in six months.

"Unfortunately, I didn't get to six months. Ten weeks later, I felt a lump in the right breast so I came back and had another ultrasound which showed that it had grown quite significantly and the biopsy turned out to be cancer. I have triple-negative breast cancer."

Rosalind had always been told that women should wait until they were aged 40 before having ultrasounds or mammograms. She is no longer a believer in that.

"I got lucky because if I had waited until I was 40, in September, I would have really been in big trouble," she said. "My cancer would have really spread. So, my little guy definitely saved my life. My message to all the young ladies is don't wait until you are 40. Go and have the ultrasound, or have the mammogram. We have to be our own advocates when it comes to our health and, at the end of the day, it's just not worth taking the risk to wait.

"Look at my story. If I had waited, I would have been worse off than I am now. So, I am actually six weeks of treatments in, and I still have got quite a lot more chemo to go through, and then I will have surgery and then radiation but I have really got a strong support system, such amazing friends and family and a husband who has been my rock every day."

Rosalind has been receiving treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of the world's most respected centers devoted exclusively to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. It is the same hospital in which Phil Mickelson’s wife Amy was successfully treated 15 years ago. In total, Rosalind will be treated by a 16-week dose-intense, chemotherapy regimen.

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