May 9, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN -- Kim Evans was trying to put everyone at ease.
"I don't know how to write a story like this," she was saying, "but I do know the story is filled with love and kindness."
It is a story how Auburn's women's golf coach was diagnosed with ovarian cancer this week, and how Alabama assistant golf coach Susan Rosenstiel and her husband insisted that she not put off her care.
"Even though we have all the crazy Auburn-Alabama stories, this one is about true friendship," Evans said.
Auburn is hosting the 24-team NCAA East Regional at Auburn University Club beginning today. The Auburn golf team will be there. Evans will not.
"I don't know where the story is going to go. It's just beginning," she says.
It began earlier this year. "I had not been feeling that great," Evans remembered. Doctors discovered a cyst-like mass on an ovary.
"We drained it. I went to SECs. They said they could do surgery after the season," she said.
A follow-up was planned. But a chance meeting at the SEC Tournament with Rosenstiel, an old friend, put her on a faster track for treatment. Rosenstiel had taken her children to the hotel indoor pool. Evans had come down to get something from the soft drink machine. She spotted Rosenstiel and her husband, Tom, an obstetrics and gynecology doctor.
"I stuck my head in there and said, 'How are the kids?' and sat down to catch up with them," Evans said. "I told them I had lost a lot of weight and how I had been feeling, and he begged me, 'Don't wait until May 8 to go to the doctor. Let me try to get you in sooner. You need to go as soon as you can. You've just got to trust me.'
"He called me every single day and got me into an earlier appointment.
"Hopefully, I'm ahead of the game."
Evans isn't sure what brought her to the indoor pool. But Evans and Rosenstiel had been down a similar road not so long before. In 2011, Tom Rosenstiel was diagnosed with cancer. He finished six months of chemotherapy a year ago.
"She was there for me then," Susan Rosenstiel said. "Now, I'm providing the encouragement for her."
"But the ties between Kim and my family go back farther than that. She was in school here with my sister-in-law, so we've had close ties outside of the golf world. We've always kept up. She was so supportive last year when my husband was diagnosed with cancer.
"It's sadly ironic the ties that we have."
Rosenstiel visited Evans the day before the tournament began.
"I've always considered her a dear friend," Rosenstiel said.
"I'm resting and getting better and trying to sort out all of this crazy stuff," Evans said.
Evans sounds upbeat, though disappointed she won't be with her golf team this week.
"I feel bad because this is one of the biggest parties in college golf and I wanted it here," she said. "But it couldn't be a better setup for our team. We know this course, we won SECs here two years ago and that's almost a dress rehearsal for several of the girls. We're excited to host. It couldn't be a better setup for them. They're staying in their own homes. They know how to play the course. They're comfortable here."
The regional began at 7:30 Thursday morning. Auburn will tee off at noon. Evans said it's a tough field. She named a lot of names, including defending national champion Alabama and Susan Rosenstiel.
"There's love and friendship there," Evans said, "but, of course, I want to beat 'em."
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