(Editor's note: For the fifth year, I was again honored to be invited to participate as a golf captain for this year's Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament.)
For Penn State men's basketball head coach Patrick Chambers, the cause behind this weekend's 18th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament has become intimately familiar.
Though Chambers begins his fourth season at the helm of the Nittany Lions - having been hired the day of the CVC tournament in 2011 - and has been an active part in continuing the significant charitable efforts of the organization in his time since, the direct impact of cancer hadn't yet been a part of his life.
Until this year.
Greg Chambers, older brother to Patrick, fought a short battle with cancer before succumbing to the deadly disease just days after Penn State's participation in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
"It means more to me this year than ever before. I lost my brother two months ago, March 18, 2014, to lung cancer," Chambers said Friday morning. "We found out about it toward the end of the season. It was a very difficult time for all of us, driving back and forth to Philadelphia just to be there for your brother.
"His name is Gregory Michael. He was 60 years old, a lot of life left to live, and it was sudden and came on quick. He thought he was going in for pneumonia and the next thing you know, after three hospitals, it was much different. And it came on fast and it worked its way through him as quickly as I've ever seen in my life."
In fact, as Chambers went on to explain, the nature of Greg's illness and the reality of the disease's impact hitting so close to home brought a new perspective to his participation in the Coaches vs. Cancer cause this year.
"For the first time in my life, I've always had acquaintances that have been struck by this deadly disease but now it hit you at home when it's one of your older brothers," he said. "So, it's been a trying time, but yet a time to reflect on some great memories that I had with him growing up, and to reflect on having fun with it, laughing about it, I think that's important."
Chambers, a strong proponent of positivity in every facet of life - and especially in basketball - has brought the same spirit and mindset to his participation in the Coaches vs. Cancer cause throughout his tenure as Penn State's head coach.
Though the impact of Greg's death earlier this year put the impact of cancer much closer to home, the resulting introspection produced an even more vigilant and invigorated effort from Chambers this time around in front of the more than 300 golfers and 60 groups participating in this year's iteration of the tournament.
Said Chambers, "I saw a study from Johns Hopkins saying one of the remedies is… to laugh and have fun and to keep your mind clear of any negativity and doubt and fear. I think I needed to see something like that, especially going into last night and today and I feel like he knows that I'm here for him. I'm excited to be a big part of this and really raise some money and awareness."
(Second editor's note: With a net score of 53, my team took third place.)