Whatever happens in next week’s Women’s PGA Cup, Heather MacRae will have cause to celebrate. Getting a new lease of life is, after all, a pretty good reason to indulge in a bit of glass clinking.

“Throughout my cancer treatment, I always had a little drink to celebrate whenever I got good news,” reflected MacRae, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer earlier in the year and had a major operation in June. “You have to enjoy the small wins. Golf trophies are a wee bonus in the grand scheme of life. And champagne always tastes nice.”

MacRae will be hoping there’s more reason for some cork-popping in Texas next week when she lines up for GB&I in the inaugural staging of the Women’s PGA Cup.

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With the kind of defiant grit that used to be the reserve of the ancient mariner, the 36-year-old’s appearance in the event speaks volumes for her strength of character, her drive and her bravery.

Not so long ago MacRae was being pushed around on a wheelchair after invasive surgery. This time next week she’ll achieve an ambition that’s kept her fighting and focussed through the wretched anguish of her illness.

“Even without everything that’s happened this year, it was the one thing I wanted to play in,” said the former British Women’s Amateur Strokeplay champion. “At the start of the year it seemed such a distant dream and now I’m just counting down the sleeps.”

READ MORE: Golf helps MacRae through hell of cancer diagnosis

A couple of months after her surgery, MacRae teamed up with former European Tour player Craig Lee in the PGA’s Fourball Championship as she made her first tentative steps on the road of recovery.

“Getting back on the range was quite nervous, I didn’t want to hurt anything,” she reflected. “But when I got announced on the tee I was so excited. I had missed it all so much. I even hit a nice one down the fairway too.

“Everything is good so far. Everything is clear so I go back every six months to do the various tests and checks. Fingers crossed it’s all behind me.

“It will hang over me, though, and that’s natural. The day I went back to hospital for a check-up I was feeling really good but once you get there it brings everything back. And it will be like that every time I go.

“There will be times when I think ‘what if the cancer comes back?’ But I’m not going to sit and dwell and think the worst. I’m enjoying being able to do all the things I love doing again.

“I still feel really tired. It could be like this for a year or so. But having little goals and pushing myself, even if it was just a few steps a day after the operation, and trying to get a little bit stronger, kept me going. I’m looking forward to 2020, though, and getting 2019 out of the way.”

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Prior to her operation, MacRae plunged herself into so much work she just about needed the RNLI to drag her out of it.

Coaching here, golf days there, competitive outings everywhere? The game, in whatever form, was a much-needed distraction from the sombre reality of her situation. It continues to be a consuming, vital part of rehabilitation too.

“At first people say ‘has the cancer changed your life?’, added MacRae. “But I’d always been a kind of live for the moment girl anyway and I do the things that make me happy. I’m lucky that I wake up and I love my job.

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“I think I have become a lot more aware of other people and what they are going through. There have been times when I’ve looked pretty normal and people probably wouldn’t have known I was going through cancer treatment.

“But when you’re not able to do certain things or walk quickly or whatever, that’s when people realise something’s up. Everybody has troubles and battles they are facing but you don’t know what they are.”

MacRae continues to fight the good fight. And nobody at the PGA Cup will be fighting harder.