Gary’s back on course

When life throws up great challenges – particularly with our health – it’s important to keep doing the things that make us feel good.

For many years, golf has been one of life’s great pleasures for 73-year old Gary Edwards.

‘I’ve always been very active,’ Gary says. ‘I’ve played a fair bit of golf and I’ve always walked our local course to try and keep healthy.’

Then in August 2022, Gary was diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

‘Unfortunately, I had an extremely high PSA reading,’ Gary explains. 

‘I thought I had no chance.’

Gary went through 21 weeks of chemotherapy and then 20 courses of radiation. 

Not surprisingly, Gary says he was ‘knocked about a little bit’ by the treatment. But when he started to feel better, Gary was keen to return to the golf course. 

‘I went back and started to play golf,’ Gary says. ‘But I definitely took it on too quickly.

‘I tried to do too much, and I developed a lot of lower back pain.’

Gary’s back pain affected his movement and he had trouble sleeping.

‘Every night I was moving around trying to get comfortable,’ Gary says.

‘Then something in my back would grab and I found myself getting up in the middle of the night.

‘I’d take a few tablets and walk around the lounge room trying to loosen things up.’

Fearing his golfing days may be over, Gary was encouraged by advice from his doctors to keep active.

‘The doctors kept telling me, “Gary, for 73, you’re very fit. Make sure you keep on playing your golf.”’

As a first step, Gary made an appointment with Guy Higgins at getback Singleton for an initial physiotherapy assessment.   

‘I had a sciatic nerve issue in my lower back,’ Gary explains. ‘Guy did some hands-on treatment with me, stretching and massaging the lower back muscles.

‘I had a few treatments with Guy and it was definitely on the improve, but I was still a long way from being able to play and walk 18 holes of golf.’

Guy suggested that Gary could transition into the getback program to improve his back strength and mobility.

‘I said, “Look, I’m interested in anything that might give me some benefit.”’

‘I started with young Joe [Exercise Physiologist Joe Harden], and he explained which parts of the back we could work on and try to strengthen.’

Gary and Joe, getback Singleton
Joe and Gary at the Singleton clinic

Despite months of inactivity during his cancer treatment followed by debilitating back pain, Gary didn’t baulk at the move into exercise-based therapy.

‘Joe explained that we’d be very slowly increasing the weight,’ Gary explains. ‘And we just worked our way up, we did it very gradually for both the range of movement and the weight.

‘Slowly but surely over a 13 week period, twice a week, we worked away and I could feel myself getting stronger all the time.’

Gary was impressed with how meticulous and professional Joe was in guiding him through his personalised program. 

‘I was very confident in Joe right from the word go,’ Gary says. ‘I just felt like this young fellow knows what he’s talking about.’

He was chuffed to see the results of his hard work when results came through for his final back strength and mobility assessment. 

‘Joe showed me the graphs and gave me all the feedback on it,’ Gary says. 

‘And it wasn’t just someone telling me that I was a bit stronger. The graphs actually showed that.

Results from Gary’s initial Back Strength and Mobility test (black lines) on 20 July 2023, Midterm test (brown) and his final assessment on 19 October 2023 (blue lines) show his progression throughout the program.

‘As it’s turned out, I’ve been able to get back and play golf and walk the course again.

‘I’m very thankful for the program and what it gave me.’

It wasn’t all one way though – as Gary says, ‘You gain from it what you put into it.’

‘Joe said to me, in fairness, I did it properly. I put all my effort into it and I was there for each session.’

Even better news came when Gary got test results back from his cancer treatment.

‘I’m not 100% by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m extremely lucky,’ Gary says. 

‘My PSA level when I started was 77, and now it’s 0.6. 

‘One of my surgeon doctors said, “I call you my miracle patient.”’

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