Morgan Hoffmann, a PGA Tour player since 2013, revealed Dec. 4 he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy back in November 2016.
Writing in The Players Tribune, Hoffmann explained he had been concerned about the slow disappearance of his right pectoral muscle going back to 2011, but two dozen doctors had been unable to accurately identify his condition. Approximately 18 months ago, somewhere around May 2016, he visited a New York-based neurologist who conducted blood tests which would take months to analyze. Six months later, as Hoffmann was mulling a return call to understand the results, the doctor called to tell him he had muscular dystrophy. There is no known cure.
Muscular dystrophy is an umbrella term for a number of unique diseases targeting the muscles of the body, leading to progressively weakness and loss of muscle mass. It can spread slowly or quickly, and the diseases in this group do not uniformly target the body's muscle groups. For Hoffmann, only his pectoral muscles have been affected, with his right pec nearly gone. However, it can spread without warning and do so unpredictably. Depending on the long-term effects, Hoffmann's life could be shortened as the disease can impact muscles key for breathing, swallowing and walking.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
The muscle weakness associated with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy worsens slowly over decades and may spread to other parts of the body. Weakness in muscles of the lower legs can lead to a condition called foot drop, which affects walking and increases the risk of falls. Muscular weakness in the hips and pelvis can make it difficult to climb stairs or walk long distances. Additionally, affected individuals may have an exaggerated curvature of the lower back (lordosis) due to weak abdominal muscles. About 20 percent of affected individuals eventually require the use of a wheelchair.
The disease is genetic in nature, and Hoffmann's particular type of MD has two subsets, each with a different genetic cause on Chromosome 4. Approximately 1 in 20,000 people are affected by the condition. Treatment can be expensive, as experts and therapies to mitigate dystrophy are limited.
In his piece, Hoffmann, who detailed a variety of previously private charity work, said he draws inspiration from children he has helped or supported who have faced devastating -- and, in some cases, terminal -- diagnoses. Hoffmann points to their unrelenting happiness as a source of inspiration, and he vows to do what he can to help the MD community find a cure.
"But I believe now that this is why I was put on this earth — so that when a child is diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, there will be a cure; there will be people to help with mental, nutritional and physical training guidance," he wrote. "And especially so that no disease will ever hinder a little boy’s or girl’s passion for life."
Hoffmann will remain on the PGA Tour. He finished 81st on the 2016-17 FedEx Cup standings, and he has a pair of T-23 finishes in four starts this season.