Home » Former Golf Pro Gains Life Perspective After Blood Cancer Treatment – Australian Golf Digest

Former Golf Pro Gains Life Perspective After Blood Cancer Treatment – Australian Golf Digest

Jim Plotkin was having a year just like any other back in 2018. The former PGA Professional and club champion at a San Diego-area course was playing lots of leisurely golf, competing in some tournaments, going surfing and even enjoying a senior softball league with his 81-year-old father. Then everything changed.

While qualifying for the California Senior Amateur Championship, he started feeling ill, and opted to get a check-up. The doctor noticed a bump on a neck lymph node and promptly steered Plotkin to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. A blood test soon revealed a low thyroid count, so Plotkin visited a hematologist and oncologist, the latter of whom identified the problem as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a slow-growing form of blood cancer. Approximately 21,000 Americans are affected by CLL each year, making it one of the most common chronic leukemias among adults. “I surely wasn’t ready,” recalls Plotkin. “It threw me for a loop mentally. Couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d heard of leukemia but never of CLL.”

Plotkin’s first physician prescribed the 56-year-old a medicine that caused him to experience side effects. After nine months, Plotkin went to see a specialist in treating CLL, Dr. Michael Choi. When he first met Plotkin, Choi saw someone who had a passion to remain active. “I certainly did not want to start a medication that was going to make him feel worse or impact his ability to play golf,” says Choi, who decided to place Plotkin on an oral, chemo-free BCL-2 inhibitor drug called VENCLEXTA because “it was a different treatment that could allow him to maintain an active lifestyle compatible with his activities like golf and surfing.” Most importantly, Choi explains, VENCLEXTA is used for a defined treatment period. “We started and finished the medication regimen a year later, and after that we expected Jim would have a long time of remission.”

Plotkin has been off the drug for nearly four years and says he is doing great. He returned to tournament play and secured his first Northern California Golf Association title after winning the 2021 Southern California Golf Association Senior Match Play Championship.

“Golf has been part of my therapy,” Plotkin says. He now has a new perspective when stepping onto a course. “I’ve enjoyed getting back out there and competing again. My outlook is better. Now, when I’m standing over a four-footer in a tournament, who cares? I don’t feel the pressure. A potentially bad day on the course doesn’t bother me anymore.”

Plotkin is once again living what he considers a great life and can often be found negotiating local fairways – and Pacific Ocean waves. He’s also working again and enjoying family time more than ever. “Life is good, and I look forward to it staying that way,” he says.

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com