Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Jason Day: One Concerned Son

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You most likely know Jason Day as a dominant PGA player. You know him as the player with 12 career PGA Tour victories and a Major title at the 2015 PGA Championship, who became the world’s number-one ranked player in 2016. Even as Jason has continued to win and contend in recent years, there is something many of his fans do not know about him.

Jason’s mother, Dening, was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. The news was devastating for the entire family. For Jason, his mother’s diagnosis overpowered everything, and his number-one priority became focusing solely on getting her the best care possible.

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Jason still vividly remembers when his sister delivered that tragic news from the other side of the world:

“Australia and America are not on the same time zone so when she texted me, it was early morning. She goes, ‘Have you got time to talk?’ And I called her that morning and then she goes, ‘Yeah, mom, hasn’t been feeling well. She’s got some pain in her chest and she went to get some scans done, and there’s a growth in her lungs. She’s got lung cancer.’ My heart immediately dropped and then I didn’t know what to really say to my sister. To be honest, I didn’t say much at all, just because of the shock of actually hearing that news. So once I got off the phone, I looked at my wife Ellie, and it was very emotional… ‘Okay what are we going to do? We need to get her the best care we possibly can.’ And that kind of immediately started after I’d kind of had my moment, immediately started thinking about what can we do to get past this and fight.”

Dening has been able to make extended visits to America to spend time with Jason and his family.

“She had never really been able to tour with us. And for her to be out on the road with us, watching me play golf,” Jason reports. “For her to be able to spend more time with the grandchildren. Not only here in America, but in Australia as well, because she still lives in Australia. For her to be able to travel across and spend time with the kids. And that’s the biggest thing for us, to make memories. That’s something that makes me happy inside, knowing that the kids are spending time with my mom. She loves those small little bits of memories.”

After Dening’s initial diagnosis, they talked to her doctors and learned the importance of adding biomarker testing to discover more about her specific type of cancer and get her complete diagnosis.

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“We got some tests done and we had some scans, and then we added biomarker testing to the equation,” Jason explains. “And that gave us a different outlook on what the plan, or what the steps were for us next. It gave us another route that we could go down… Adding the biomarker testing was crucial for my mom’s health at the time. And to this day, we’re so thankful that we went through that step… through the biomarker testing, we had more of a complete diagnosis of her specific lung cancer and what we could try to do and fight against.”

Certain biomarkers can be the “drivers” that cause cancer to grow and spread. Biomarker testing can help identify specific genetic drivers called actionable mutations to help determine which treatment options are most appropriate. By identifying which biomarkers a person may have, doctors can learn more about their unique cancer. There are treatments approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that target cancers with specific biomarkers to help stop the growth and spread of tumors. A patient can only receive these targeted therapies if they test positive for the associated biomarkers.

Fortunately for Jason and Dening, her biomarker test results helped identify the best treatment option for her type of lung cancer. Jason’s dedication and perseverance helped his mother get the testing and treatment she needed. Today, he is an essential part of the care team that is helping her along her treatment journey.

“My mother is amazing, and she did everything she possibly could for me when I was growing up. And I wanted to feel like I could do everything I possibly could to make sure that she had a support team around her.”

Jason and his mother want to spread the word about the importance of biomarker testing for others diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. It’s a message they’re both passionate about.

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“I mean, there’s just nothing like having your mom around when things didn’t look really great at the start, and for her to be around is pretty special. I think about it all the time, and I get emotional about it just because she might have not be around, but she is. So I’m very happy about that.”

Today, Jason is out on the tournament circuit, and Dening loves being there to see him competing where he belongs.

To learn more about Jason and his mother’s story and the importance of biomarker testing, visit