In the summer of 2019, coming off the heels of participating in the 52nd PGA Professional Championship at Belfair, PGA Professional Geoffrey Dean received news that no one ever hopes to hear muttered by a physician. A routine colonoscopy revealed a cancerous growth that would signal months of battling ahead. Instead of retreating from the prognosis, Dean turned to his Christian faith, family, and his inner “champion” mentality to face cancer head-on. 

The inner champion in Dean, the one that would later prove vital, manifested itself early on in his life. He grew up playing baseball but was introduced to golf through a fellow teammate. The difficulty of golf ignited a desire in Dean, and he refused to accept that he would forever be terrible at the sport. 

After years of practicing and competing, Dean fully realized his goal of being a professional golfer and traveled the world playing on various mini-tours and qualifying tournaments. Never quite reaching the pinnacle of the sport on the PGA TOUR, Dean decided to take a step back and pursue his PGA Membership in order to learn more about all of the various aspects of the golf business. 

Years of competing and striving to be the best he could be, whether that be on the course or as a PGA Professional, primed Dean for the battle for his life. In the days following his prognosis, Dean faced a litany of doctor’s appointments and barrage of treatment sessions which included both radiation and chemotherapy. Luckily, his reaction to treatment was mild which allowed him the opportunity to continue teaching at PGA West and provided him a therapeutic outlet to divert his attention away from his treatment.

After finishing an eight-week chemotherapy and radiation treatment regimen, Dean was determined to continue playing the game he loved. Just three weeks following his last treatment session, he was in the field for the 2019 Southern California PGA Professional Championship at The Alisal. Dean’s game was as sharp as ever and he made the cut and finished in a tied for 43rd place with scores of 75-72-72 (+3).

Phase two of his cancer treatment, would prove to be a more physical and mental challenge for Dean. A surgery to remove the cancerous growth was needed in November of 2019, but the first surgery attempt was unsuccessful. Three weeks later, Dean was back under the knife and this time the operation was a success. Dean, however, was not in clear just yet. In the days following surgery he developed a bloodborne disease and infection which nearly cost him his life.  

After two weeks in writhing pain at the hospital, Dean was finally seeing progress with his infection. Dean’s road to recovery was underway but he was down nearly 40 pounds and could hardly walk 30 yards before having to sit down from exhaustion. Dean had the overwhelming support of his wife Donna, family and friends, and he pulled from his inner “champion” and found the motivation to persevere and push his body to its limits. Failure and defeat were no an option and he focused on walking a little bit further each day, and was determined to overcome his illness. He took it one day at a time, but eventually built up the strength to climb “The Bump & Grind” trail near his home which is 3.79 miles with an 850-foot ascent. 

Finding himself in better physical shape than before his cancer treatment, Dean made it a goal to play in the 2020 SCPGA Section Championship at Indian Wells Golf Resort and Ironwood Country Club. Not only was he in the field, but he made the cut and finished the tournament eight-over par over three-rounds. The journey was long, arduous, and not yet completed, but it was Dean’s inner champion and his connection with God that helped him overcome adversity and have a clear vision for a bright future. Dean is back teaching, competing, and sharing his testimony in support of cancer patients everywhere.


Contact the author: Tyler Miller 

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