ASU women's golf coach continues to lead team during cancer treatment

Coach Missy Farr-Kaye began treatment for colon cancer in December after doctors discovered it in November

ASU women's golf head coach Missy Farr-Kaye announced on Jan. 11 that she had started treatment for colon cancer, the third time she is fighting cancer in her life. However, she is not letting treatment stop her from coaching her team.

Farr-Kaye said she has completed three of eight chemotherapy treatments, receiving treatment every other week until her final treatment in mid-April.

"Typically my first five, six days I stay at home because I'm not feeling great," Farr-Kaye said in a Zoom teleconference Jan. 22. "But then the light comes on, and I feel better."

After the initial week of staying at home after each treatment, Farr-Kaye is back on the course coaching her squad — business as usual for her.

Farr-Kaye began cancer treatment in December after oncologists discovered it in November, she said.

Farr-Kaye said her oncologist told her the chemotherapy regimen she would be put on would be "a little easier" than the one she went through for breast cancer in 2009. The oncologist added there "may be difficult days" for Farr-Kaye, but she would be able to coach while receiving treatment.

The news of Farr-Kaye's diagnosis moved not only the coaches and players of the ASU golf teams but many throughout the ASU community. 

"She was very overwhelmed (with support), I don't think she expected it," fifth-year golfer Olivia Mehaffey said. "I think it just shows the kind of person she is. She's loved by so many around her and very well-respected within the industry and ASU."

Farr-Kaye has also received calls from Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson and ASU President Michael Crow expressing support for her as she undergoes treatment.

"I'm just extremely grateful to have that (support) because it does help a lot," Farr-Kaye said. "Ray (Anderson) tells me, 'You don't have to be Superwoman, you do what you need to do.'" 

ASU's men's golf head coach Matt Thurmond said the men's and women's golf teams are very close — the coaches work closely together, the players play together and the coaches' offices are right next to each other — and there were "a lot of tears" when Farr-Kaye told the men's team the news. 

"When Missy brought that news, it hit us all really hard," Thurmond said. "One thing about Missy is that she is just one tough competitor. I have no doubt in my mind that she's going to come out of this stronger than ever."

Farr-Kaye's team, which has players whom she has coached for over three years, offered some of the most heartfelt support for the coach.

"She has a lot of people there for her to help her," Mehaffey said. "I think that really means a lot to her and shows the character and the person that she is."

The emotional reaction from the team's players displays the bond Farr-Kaye has developed with them, a testament to her coaching. The players see her as more than just a coach; she is a mentor, a friend and even a mother figure.

"She really is like a mom to all of us," Mehaffey said. "She always says, 'I have eight daughters and three sons at home.'"

Despite the added pressure in an already unique year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Farr-Kaye is still driven and focused on the goal of the season: to be national champions.

"After my last chemo, I want to celebrate because it's an accomplishment, then put it behind and move forward to get to coach at the National Championship," Farr-Kaye said.


Reach the reporter at drodish@asu.edu and follow @david_rodish on Twitter.

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