Morning arrives, and we open our eyes. We check our phone. Perhaps we begin our daily yoga routine, or grab a quick bite before heading to the office. With the freshness of a new year still lingering, we look forward with anticipation. We often wonder what the year will bring. We seldom wonder if we’ll be around to find out. But that’s the question Dave Rose and his family faced in 2008, after he received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Would he be around to watch his youngest daughter graduate from high school? See his son return from an LDS mission? Hold the grandbaby his oldest daughter was carrying? Statistically speaking—probably not. Only five in one million survive pancreatic cancer.
Dave Rose knew about statistics. But he also knew how to fight, and he knew how to win. Rose played basketball at the University of Houston, where, as co-captain of the team, he helped earn them a #1 ranking and a seat at the national championship game in 1983. He has coached the BYU men’s basketball team since 1997, and been the head coach since 2005. BYU was the second-most improved team in the nation under Rose and his coaching staff in their first season.
Considered by many to be the most successful coach in the program’s history, Rose has taken the team to the NCAA Tournament seven times now, and is ranked fifth all-time for best career starts by wins. He is three-time Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, and the only BYU coach in history to win at least 20 games in each of his first nine seasons. Though he has beaten his share of tough opponents, Dave Rose had never faced an opponent this big. This ruthless. This cruel.
“No one wants to be diagnosed with cancer,” Dave shares.“Before my personal experience with it, I sort of saw it as a death sentence.” He had seen the effects of cancer. He and his wife, Cheryl, served as chairs for the Children with Cancer Foundation, spending countless hours helping children and their families cope with cancer. Cheryl, herself, had watched four of her sisters and a niece battle the dreaded disease. And now, the person she loved most in the world was staring it in the face.
As the Roses walked through the doors of Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) to begin their battle, their anxiety abated and they found a refuge from the storm. “When we first arrived at Huntsman, obviously our world had been rocked,” Cheryl recalls. “But, as we stepped through the doors, we felt instant love from everyone—from the receptionist, to the doctors, to the lab technicians—I mean, it was amazing.”
Though Dave had his challenges while going through the different procedures required to treat his cancer, he didn’t miss one game or one opportunity to recruit. He was at his daughter’s high school graduation—and her wedding. He got to embrace his son as he returned from serving a mission. And he got to hold the grandbaby his daughter was carrying, and the grandbabies who came after. Huntsman’s commitment to caring, coupled with their cutting-edge research and treatments, have given Dave eight more birthdays since his diagnosis.
“The doctors were ready for me and my diagnosis because of the research that had been done years before,” he says. “I’ve been able to do my job, and have all of the exciting days and holidays and times with my family—I am so grateful for the chance Huntsman has given me to navigate through this.” Dave wants to extend the same hope to others by ensuring that the people at HCI have funds to continue their research.
That’s where Dave and Cheryl’s passion now lies, in helping to continue HCI funding so that lifesaving treatments will be ready for others who will follow in their footsteps, through the doors of Huntsman Cancer Institute, anxious and aching for more life. With this mission on their minds, they eagerly accepted an invitation from Guy Roche Sr, Committee Chairman of the Utah County Huntsman Ambassadors, to attend the Golf to Eradicate Cancer fundraising tournament in Utah Valley two years ago. Roche lost his wife, Josie, to cancer in 2014, and the Roses found common ground with him after hearing his heartbreaking story.
The fact that Roche was doing all of this in memory of his wife resonated with Cheryl. Before she lost her sister to cancer, Cheryl made a promise to continue this fight against cancer and be Janet’s voice. “Those who have loved ones fighting cancer feel a strong pull to do whatever we can to move this work forward—for the people that we love who have passed on,” Cheryl says. “That’s why I, personally, feel the commitment to get involved.” They were honored when Roche approached them in 2017 for permission to change the event’s name to the “Dave and Cheryl Rose Classic”.
Joining forces with Roche, Dave and Cheryl are committed to this fight; to extending lives and eradicating cancer through fundraising efforts that make possible advancements in cancer treatment. “There are so many amazing causes out there—great charities and organizations that need help,” says Cheryl, “But this is the one that we’ve chosen to focus on and to put our efforts behind.”
“This is exactly what we want to do,” Dave echoes, “Raise a large amount of money to present to the HCI, to enable them to continue their research and to find a cure for cancer. That’s what the initial title of the tournament was—Golf to Eradicate Cancer—and that’s what the purpose of the event is.”
“This is truly a perfect partnership,” Roche adds. “I’m so honored to know Dave and Cheryl, and to have them as hosts for this exceptional fundraiser. We have big plans going forward to continue the exceptionalism that we have been able to generate in the past. Dave Rose is truly a living legend—both on and off the court. Having Dave and Cheryl to inspire us with their love and leadership make us realize that we can defeat cancer, through research.”
The Roses, along with Guy Roche, want people to know what an important role members of the community can play in this cause. Their efforts will help extend the lives of their neighbors, their loved ones, perhaps even their own. Though the primary focus of this event is raising funds, they are passionate about bringing the community together for another purpose, and that is simply support. They want people to come together and share their stories, and their strength. They want people to feel the desire and drive to do great things—to go out and bring people in who want to give and receive support. Hope. Love.
“I am so grateful that we can be part of this,” says Cheryl. “There are so many people out there whose stories are similar, and whose courage is strong. Obviously, there are times when it’s tough,” she continues. “Dave and I have a slogan that other people have picked up as well, and it’s: Today is a good day. We feel like every day that we spend together is a good day. That’s how we try to approach it.” Their support of one another is evident, and their enthusiasm for this event is palpable.
“This is a place to come and get support, a place to come and feel good for a day, and a place to come out and help one of the premier cancer hospitals in the country have a few more resources to do a few more things,” says Dave. Cheryl plays off her husband, “If we all work together towards this, as a community, we can make a real impact—and that’s exciting!”
The Dave and Cheryl Rose Classic will be held on May 21, 2018, at the Alpine Country Club in Highland, UT. The Roses invite the community and corporate sponsors to join with them in this most worthy cause for a day of giving and golfing. One hundred percent of the sponsorships and donations go to support the mission of Huntsman Cancer Institute. In the words of Jon Huntsman: “There is no more important human quality than sharing with others. There is no source of true happiness more complete than an act of charity.”
To learn more about this event, read more about Dave and Cheryl’s story, or become involved as a sponsor or donor, please visit the website at www.golftoeradicatecancer.org. You can make a donation directly to Huntsman Cancer Foundation from the website, or contribute prizes for the drawing.
As Cheryl so eloquently puts it, “None of us know how long we are going to be here—we don’t know what awaits us. The important thing is how we live each day, how we love the people we are closest to, and how we make a positive impact in the world.”
As evening comes, we close our eyes. We rest our minds, and feel the air move in and out of our lungs. We listen to the soft symphony of crickets outside our window. We snuggle up to someone we love. And, as slumber sets in, we give thanks for another day. Because, today was a good day.
Terrin Parker is from Cedar City, Utah. She attended Southern Utah University and Weber State University before going on to earn her master's degree in physical therapy at Loma Linda University in California. Terrin is the associate editor for St. George Health and Wellness magazine. She is the mother of two young boys and the wife of a busy grad student. They live in Redlands, California.