“When my prostate cancer was publicly announced, I went golfing with a group of friends and found out that several of them had prostate cancer. They hadn’t felt comfortable sharing the information until it had made headlines with me.”
His father’s journey with prostate cancer also made it easier for Ken Jr. and his friends to talk about prostate cancer. “Everything is bigger and better when you’re an athlete, it can sometimes be hard to talk about stuff like this,” he explained. “Now because of what we’ve experienced [our dads experiencing prostate cancer] these conversations are not embarrassing. Now, it’s normal.
Both of the Griffey men agree that these are the types of conversations men should be having – especially Black men, who are 56% more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men. The Griffeys have recently joined the Men Who Speak Up campaign to encourage early detection and help men be empowered to talk about their advanced symptoms – “because it’s too important not to,” says Ken Sr.
Although great strides have been made in raising awareness for prostate cancer, as Ken Sr. points out, the conversations still rarely go beyond early stage disease and screenings, “leaving a gap in terms of what happens when prostate cancer advances.”
“The reality of the situation is that prostate cancer is not just the second most common cancer diagnosed, it’s also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men –and African American men have the highest mortality rate for prostate cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the US. We need to talk more about advanced prostate cancer, so men feel more comfortable speaking up.”
For any man living with advancing prostate cancer and Ken Jr. offers this home run advice: “don’t grit your teeth through the pain. It’s crucial to break the silence and speak to your doctor.”