Lyle steels for biggest fight yet

It’s with severely tangled emotions that Jarrod Lyle comes to this week’s Emirates Australian Open.

The 36-year-old, in the midst of a third life-and-death struggle with leukemia, is greeting his peers and well-wishers with the same smile and sharp wit that has long been his trademark.

But underneath the cool and presently fit exterior – and even beyond the hair that is starting to grow back after a successful bout of preliminary chemotherapy earlier this year – his imminent struggle is hard to broach without tears welling.

In the background of the Lyle Apparel tent that he and wife Briony are operating this week at The Australian Golf Club is little Lusi, their five-year-old daughter and sister of Jemma, the 18-month-old dynamo who’s with carers this week as they ply the family trade now golf is off the table.

The three “women” are Lyle’s primary sources of inspiration as he prepares to embark on the next wave of treatment – one that will shape the family’s future.

And despite his current good health, he knows it’s critical.

“I’m great now, feeling really good actually,” said Lyle, who will spend time this week as an analyst of Channel 7’s coverage of the national championship.

“But I’ve got a big month coming. I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.

“It’s pretty hard work at the moment, but that’s the reality of the situation. It’s very serious and I’m going to have to fight … thankfully I have the three girls as inspiration and I’ll do whatever I can to get back out and be a father and a husband and live as a family afterwards.”

Lyle will soon have a procedure that will effectively reduce his immunity levels to zero in early December and then have a stem cell transplant using his brother, Leighton, as donor in an operation that has rarely been undertaken by someone in a third high-level treatment.

Nobody truly knows the likelihood of success.

But, as he has done twice before, in 1999 and 2012 both with different treatment plans, Lyle is up for the fight.

“I’m not going down without one mate, that’s for sure. I’ve got too much to live for and let’s hope we’ll all be around to talk about it next year,” he said with raw emotion.

Lyle confirmed he was in the process of writing a book that is scheduled to be released next year – although a final decision on its future won’t be made until after his procedure is completed.

“Mate, let’s just hope it’s an autobiography and not a biography. I’ll gladly sign a million copies of it to everyone who’s helped me out or wished me well over the years if I get that chance.

“It’s not going to be a book on golf – it’ll have some references to the odd good shot that I’ve hit, but mostly it’s about the journey and telling people the real story about what we’ve been through.

“If it can help people who are in the same boat, then that’s perfect. There’s plenty of people fighting battles in their lives and I’d love to be able to give them some hope and inspiration.”

Of that, there’s already no doubt.

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