Seve Ballesteros speaks to BBC about his battle with cancer
One year after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor -- and exhibiting the scars of multiple surgeries that saved his life -- Seve Ballesteros this week granted his first major television interview since his brush with death. Ballesteros spoke candidly about his cancer battle with Peter Alliss for a documentary that aired on the BBC on October 14. The five-time major winner was diagnosed with a brain tumor after collapsing on Oct. 6, 2008. "All of a sudden I end up in the emergency hospital," he said. "When they told me what I have I was in shock."
Ballesteros underwent four surgeries to remove the tumor and to reduce swelling on his skull. Some scenes in the documentary show the 52-year-old in the hospital, his head misshapen from the procedures and with tracheotomy scars visible on his throat. He said a positive attitude and patience have helped him through the past year: "When the bad times come, as my friend Roberto De Vinenzo used to say, you have to open the umbrella and wait for the rain to stop."
The interview was shot mainly at Ballesteros's palatial home near Santander, Spain. In it he talks with surprising honesty about his life today, including his relationships with his children and his battle against loneliness. "He has discovered a lot of girls, like his father," Seve says of his 14-year-old son Baldomero. "It's a pity I had so many girls through the years. I feel somehow when I come home a little sad because I don't have anybody. I'm by myself."
Ballesteros divorced his wife, Carmen, in 2004 after a 16-year marriage. They have three children together.
Alliss admits that he was unsure of what he would find when he arrived in Spain one day after this summer's British Open, an event Ballesteros has won three times. "What greeted us was a pleasant surprise, although he'd pulled a calf muscle while exercising on the beach and was limping, he looked pretty well the same majestic Seve," he says. "His powerful convictions on life came shining through and his determination to battle his illness was there for all to see."
Ballesteros has been rebuilding his strength by walking around his indoor pool for almost three miles a day, and even took the camera crew to the range to film him hitting shots. He says he can still strike the ball well, but his impaired vision -- he lost 75 percent of the vision in his left eye -- means he struggles on the greens. What he hasn't lost is his impish sense of humor. Noting the Ferrari and Lamborghini parked in his garage, he admits he can no longer drive them due to his vision loss. "So the Lamborghini is for sale people," he says directly to the camera. "So come to Santander and we'll have a talk!"
Despite his struggles over the past year, Ballesteros says he feels lucky. "I've had a very good life. I'm sure that some people will feel sorry for me or maybe cry when they see this," he says. "But I feel very happy and a very lucky person because throughout my life I have had so many great moments and I feel that I live two or three more lives than the average person. This thing that happened to me is a very little thing compared to other people who have tougher times. They didn't have the opportunity to live life so intensely and as well as I did." You can watch a clip from the Inside Sports documentary on Ballesteros here. Seve's Career in Photos | More about Seve Ballesteros (Photo: Paul White/AP)