One week away from golf, Cancer Pathways’ Shayla Ring and tournament namesake Bryce Fisher discuss our impact, our mission, and our community. Get to know how Bryce became involved with Cancer Pathways, how the Bryce Fisher Golf Tournament came to be, and the impact our organization and tournament have made on Bryce, and our community, over the past decade and a half.
How did you first get involved with Cancer Pathways?
I first got involved in 2005. My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and I didn’t quite understand how to be a supportive son, what cancer was from a medical perspective, and all sorts of scary thoughts related to potentially losing my mother at a young age. I was referred to Cancer Pathways by the Seattle Seahawks. They hadn’t known them before but they’d heard they were doing good things in our community.
Tell me about the impact these programs have had on you during your Mom’s journey with cancer?
I did a lot of the social support classes. They also had a series where doctors would come in and speak on the mechanics of breast cancer: what the diagnosis is, what the treatment is, what does it actually mean to have cancer from a medical perspective.
There was a lot of learning in the first couple of years. And social learning too, how to be a supportive son while my Mom is going through a journey that takes a couple years, at the least.
You’ve been a board member for several years. What led you to staying involved and moving forward with Cancer Pathways into that leadership role?
I think the world of Anna, our Founder and Executive Director. I think the world of the [Cancer Pathways] team. They were serving so many people in a way that was not immediately obvious. If you get cancer in Seattle, there’s a lot of great research and cutting edge therapeutics and incredible hospitals and doctors, but there’s a part of cancer that’s beyond treatment. That is, how is the family emotionally handling this?
If you’re a husband, how do you talk to your wife? If you’re a father of a daughter with leukemia, how do you talk to your other children? There’s all of these really gnarly questions that don’t have easy answers. Cancer Pathways does an incredible job of helping people, certainly helping me, be a good support system and find support where you need it. What pulled me to Cancer Pathways was there were these parts of my mother’s diagnosis that were really hard to talk about and scary at times, and they made it an incredibly safe place to do that.
What led you to start the Cancer Pathways golf tournament fundraiser?
The golf tournament stemmed from my love of golf. I’m bad at it, but I love it. During that time I was with the Seahawks, and it was the first year we went to the Super Bowl. I made some calls to players I played with at the Rams, guys I knew from the Seahawks, and my Nike Representative. They were all incredibly supportive. In a week we got swag, golf equipment, golf balls, and players made appearances. There’s this great community in Seattle of current and former football players with charity events that all support one another. It was actually a relatively easy thing to pull together once we set our mind to it.
This is the 16th year we’ve held the tournament. What drives you to keep hosting it every year, and what makes it so successful?
I just love Cancer Pathways. I think what they’re doing is so vital. And I think those of us who are blessed, not with just economic resources, but with personal relationships and social resources, we have an obligation to be supportive of our community. I love Seattle and I always want to use my blessings to bless others.
I believe what makes the tournament so successful is, one, we have a really good time. We enjoy ourselves. Anna told me a few years ago, “it’s not about the golf, it’s about the people.” And she’s absolutely right. Two, people like to support people who are passionate. I’m passionate about the cancer community, I’m passionate about Cancer Pathways in particular.
When you put those things together, it’s really easy to convince people to go golfing on a Friday in Seattle in the summer, especially for a good cause. I think all those things work together.
Our Board President, Dave Raney, says you ask the players the same thing at each tournament. What are those things?
I ask the same three things. One, I ask people to have a good time and enjoy the day. Two, I ask people to learn about Cancer Pathways and the cancer community in Seattle. Three, I ask people to be generous with their financial resources.
So, have a good time, learn a little bit, and share your financial resources with an awesome organization.
What are you looking forward to most at this year’s tournament?
We have a great following of this tournament over the years. I love seeing the repeat players, and I love getting new people and hearing what brought them to our tournament and how they heard about Cancer Pathways. And I just love Seattle and being at home in the summer.
What are the ways that you’ve witnessed the tournament change over the last decade and a half?
When we first started, it was a celebrity tournament where we had a local celebrity with each golf foursome. This comes back to that conversation Anna and I had, it’s not about the golf, it’s not about the celebrities, it’s about our mission. It’s about the people we support and about enjoying one another.
Our tournament in some years has gotten bigger, in some years it’s gotten smaller, but we always put on a good show.
We started the tournament in 2005, we’ve gone through a great financial crisis and we’ve closed down for the pandemic. When we started up again, we had to reintroduce ourselves, but people have been so incredibly supportive.
So through bigger tournaments, smaller tournaments, and good financial times, and slower financial times, we have this great base of support. This goes back to what I said at the beginning, Cancer Pathways fulfills this critical need for what I call the ‘non-doctory stuff’ and I think that absolutely resonates with our community.
We are counting down the days until Friday, July 14th for our 16th annual Bryce Fisher Golf Tournament! Register now and meet us at the Golf Club at Newcastle for community, food, and a lot of fun while helping us face cancer together.
Former Seattle Seahawk Bryce Fisher established our golf tournament in 2007, bringing together our community and raising funds for the programs he relied on while his mom was in treatment for breast cancer. A decade and a half later, Bryce Fisher continues to serve on our board, and the golf tournament remains an important and impactful event for Cancer Pathways fundraising.