Defying cancer with entry in Summerland Singles bowls comp
IF ANYONE deserves success at this year's Summerland Singles, it's Joe Mills.
The Brunswick Heads Bowling Club player, who has been suffering from bowel cancer, is among the top regional and interstate entrants preparing for action at the Ballina Cherry St Bowls Club event.
Married father-of-three Mills, who has five grandchildren, will discover if he is in remission from the disease on Monday - a day after this year's three-day event concludes.
A former Singles and three-time Summerland Pairs champion, the 57-year-old is just thankful to be back in action after undergoing punishing treatment.
"Twelve months ago, I couldn't walk from one end of the green to the other," he said.
"I've been through the mill a bit, so I'm just happy to be out there again."
This is a first singles appearance in four years for Mills, who splits his time between Brunswick Heads and his home in Redland Bay.
He is in good form, though, having reached the quarter-finals of last week's Pairs with home player Neil Burgess.
Mills has good memories of the Singles as well, having won the event 21 years ago.
"Doing well in the pairs has definitely helped my confidence," he said.
"If you have won an event before, it definitely sticks in your memory.
"If you don't play an event for four years, then you don't think you can get back to this level.
"I'm optimistic of doing well."
Mills, who is likely to be cheered on by wife Bev and other supporters, said he was looking forward to spending time on the rinks with mates old and new at the "great" event.
"It's the people that keep you coming back," he said. "They are terrific - they make the tournament.
"The competition has definitely got harder over the years. The standard of bowling is getting better and better.
"That's great, though - I like to see good competition."
Whatever his fortunes at this year's event, Mills said his recent experiences had taught him one thing.
"This was a big wake-up call for me," he said.
"I'd just say to everyone, 'have fun and enjoy life'."
- Where: Ballina Cherry Street Bowls Club
- When: Today until Sunday (action starts about 9am each day).
- Prizemoney pool: $11,000 (first prize $3200).
- Players to watch: Luke Jones (2013 runner-up), Kelvin Kerkow (former Commonwealth Games gold medallist), Lyn Cuthbertson (one of the few women playing this year's event).
- Decent each-way bet: No one will know how the greens are playing better than home player Josh Greenhalgh, who enjoyed a strong year in 2013.
- Dark horse: South Lismore's David Ball reached the semi-finals of last week's Pairs and is in good form.