My Reasons for Speaking Up about Prostate Cancer

PP-600-US-1847 Media Photo_ Ken Griffey Sr
Ken Griffey, Sr.

The start of 2016 brought extraordinary news: my son, Ken Griffey Jr., was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Upon hearing the news, I was overwhelmed with happiness and pride. As we celebrated together as a family, I couldn’t help but feel thankful that I was around to witness this once-in-a-lifetime moment. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006, I knew I needed to face the diagnosis head-on so that I could experience moments like this in the future.

Even before my diagnosis, prostate cancer had a huge impact on my family. After losing four uncles to the disease, I understood why it was so important to be aware of prostate cancer. This knowledge, along with my mother’s continued concern, drove me to request a prostate exam at each annual physical, even when it wasn’t required. But even with these preparations, I still had difficulty processing my own diagnosis. I didn’t know what to do with the information, let alone talk about it. It took a great deal of encouragement from family for me to open up about how I was feeling. Especially in the first year after my diagnosis, there were moments I didn’t think things would improve. But fortunately, I responded well to treatment and felt better over time.

I’m lucky that my doctor caught and treated my prostate cancer early, but I know that not all men have the same experience. There are times when prostate cancer advances and becomes life threatening. Prostate cancer is not just the second most common cancer diagnosed, it’s also the second leading cause of cancer-related death among American men. That’s why it’s critical for men to speak up if they experience any symptoms or physical changes, as they could be signs the disease is progressing.

Knowing how tough it is to open up about prostate cancer, I joined Bayer’s Men Who Speak Up campaign to help men be empowered to talk about their advanced prostate cancer symptoms. Through my partnership with Bayer, I learned that symptoms in prostate cancer, such as fatigue, difficulty walking or sleeping, unexplained pain or difficulty doing normal activities, often don’t emerge until the disease has advanced, and it’s not always easy to determine the cause of these symptoms. But doctors can help men recognize their symptoms and manage their disease, as long as men are willing to speak up about them.

As part of the Men Who Speak Up movement, I’ve been sharing my story and encouraging men across the country, especially those with advancing prostate cancer, to talk to their doctors if they experience symptoms or notice any changes. is a great resource for men and their caregivers who want to learn more about advanced prostate cancer. The symptoms tracker and the discussion guide in particular can make it easier to prepare for doctor appointments, especially since it can be difficult to gather your thoughts before a visit.

I encourage all men to have frequent check-ups and be on the lookout for the warning signs of advanced prostate cancer. During Men’s Health Month and beyond, it’s important to remember all of the moments in our future that we look forward to celebrating. For me, seeing Junior receive the highest honor in baseball is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see the wonderful things my grandkids have in store for our family.

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