With a shared talent and love for baseball, Ken Griffey Jr. and his dad, Ken Griffey Sr., have always been close. They were even teammates at one legendary point. Despite their closeness, the father and son baseball greats learned after Ken Sr.’s prostate cancer diagnosis in 2006 that there were still some things they were uncomfortable sharing.
“We’ve worked to change that,” Ken Jr. shared in a recent tag team interview with BlackDoctor.org and his dad. “Now, we are much more open with each other about our health, even when it’s “below-the-belt.” It’s not just for my dad. I have my own kids, and I want to be here for them for the long haul.”
Ken Griffey Sr., former Cincinnati Reds outfielder and three-time All-Star who won two World Series titles with the Reds, knew prostate cancer, the second most common cancer among men in the U.S., ran in his family. It took the lives of four of his uncles. Ken Sr.’s mother always talked to her sons about paying attention to the possibility of prostate cancer and they knew it was something they had to take seriously, he says.
But even with growing up with the reality of prostate cancer, he still wasn’t prepared for the diagnosis that came as the result of a routine screening. “I didn’t know what to do with the information at first, let alone talk about it.”
Like many men, he initially lived with his diagnosis in silence.
Results from a Harris Poll survey published in 2015 show that nearly 7 in 10 men (68 percent) sometimes ignore the symptoms of prostate cancer, instead of speaking up about changes in their body that are bothering them. They believe they have to be strong and handle things on their own, potentially risking their health.
For the man that had been so engaged about his prostate cancer screenings and prevention, Ken Sr. was surprised how difficult it was for him to talk about.
Thankfully, early detection and surgery saved his life and his family supported him every step of the way. Being open about his prostate cancer diagnosis not only created deeper conversations with his doctor and family, but also his friends.