Golf helping Heather MacRae prepare for cervical cancer battle

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Cancer can strike anyone - golfer MacRae

Heather MacRae says focusing on playing golf is helping take her mind off her battle with cervical cancer.

The Scot, 35, is competing at Newmachar with male professionals at the Tartan Tour's Northern Open - a week before she has a second course of surgery.

MacRae won the Women's PGA Professional Championship in England last week.

"The last few weeks have been so busy and that's the way I wanted it to be like," she said. "I don't want to think about 14 June or what happens after."

MacRae is making sure she is "not giving myself much time to sit and think about it".

"I figure I'll have four, five, six, seven weeks to sit and do that," she told BBC Scotland.

"I have this tournament and then I have another one next week and it just gives me something else to think about - practice and just keep looking forward rather than looking two weeks ahead.

"I'm here for two days, I'm in hospital most of the day on Friday, Saturday we're having a family trip up Ben A'an for a bit of a hike, Sunday I'm teaching most of the day and then I'm back up to Aberdeen for another tournament Monday/Tuesday, and in hospital Wednesday, family day Thursday and then the operation on Friday."

Playing against a field including top male professionals such as Alastair Forsyth and Greig Hutcheon, MacRae found the going tough at the Northern Open, finishing the first day 17 strokes behind leader Chris Kelly.

MacRae admitted to "exhaustion", with last week's victory coming despite missing about six weeks after recovering from her initial operation and only being able to play because her next surgery was delayed.

"Golf is what I do, I've come off a win last week and everyone here's been really nice and congratulating me," she said.

"The guys know what I've been going through.

"I feel mostly fine - just enjoying what I'm doing and doing a lot of fun stuff with people I want to do it with."

'I wasn't worried; I thought it would be fine'

MacRae admitted "it was all a bit of a shock" when she got news of her diagnosis.

"It was the end of January, I had the smear and then five or six weeks later got the results that said there were some abnormalities," she recalled.

"I had that before, but when I went and they did the biopsy, it was fine, which happens most of the time, so I wasn't too worried about it.

"I didn't tell my mum or sister or anyone. I just went to the hospital to do it and thought I would tell them afterwards. But then obviously it wasn't fine."

MacRae is not sure how long she will be sidelined from golf because of the operation.

"My normal day is going to the gym and lifting heavy stuff and playing golf, so if they say four to six weeks then most of the time physically I feel okay, but you have to give yourself time to recover on the inside," she said.

Victory at Trentham near Stoke ub secured her place on the Great Britain and Ireland team for the inaugural Women's PGA Cup in Texas during October.

"For me, it's important to have goals that you can aim towards, so I have a tournament I qualified for - a fourball at the end of August - I have one I am meant to be playing at the end of July, but I don't think I'll get to play that," she added.

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