There’s an old adage: “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” It also doesn’t buy health. Being rich does not prevent illness, disease, or death. The wealthy may be able to travel to the best doctors or treatment facilities, but if their disease has progressed beyond what science and doctors can cure, their fate is the same as a less-fortunate person.
Celebrities are no different than the rest of us when it comes to their health. Many celebrities have chosen to open up about their diagnosis in order to bring awareness to their condition. By raising awareness, celebrities can potentially reach someone that might be experiencing similar symptoms and possibly save a life.
In 2014, actor Ben Stiller was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Stiller was in his 40s when his doctor suggested a Prostate-Specific Antigen test (PSA). Although Stiller was considered an average risk for prostate cancer, according to a recent interview with Stiller by CNN Health, his doctor wanted to establish a baseline PSA score. This simple test revealed much more than either one predicted. Following a watch-and-wait period by his doctor where they continued to monitor his PSA levels, Stiller had a MRI, which officially diagnosed his prostate cancer. Stiller ended up having a radical prostatectomy and has been cancer-free since.
Former baseball all-star Ken Griffey Sr. was at a high risk for prostate cancer, having had four uncles die from prostate cancer when Griffey was diagnosed at age 55. He was diagnosed early and had surgery to treat his prostate cancer and has been cancer-free ever since. Since having dealt with his own diagnosis, Griffey has become a spokesperson for Bayer’s Men Who Speak Up campaign. Men Who Speak Up is a national movement to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of advancing prostate cancer. The movement also encourages men to speak to their doctors and reach out to their own families for support.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell also received a prostate cancer diagnosis and was treated with surgery in 2003. Powell is a spokesperson for the Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC), and encourages men to get checked. On his birthday in 2011 he said, via Facebook, “I am a prostate cancer survivor and a spokesman for prevention. Men should have regular prostate examinations … Regular exams allowed me to deal with this problem early and make a full recovery.”
Any man that has received a prostate cancer diagnosis would probably say the same thing – talk to your doctor and get checked. Prostate cancer is generally slow growing, and can be successfully treated or managed, if caught early. Knowing your risk factors and speaking to your doctor is imperative when it comes to staying healthy. The American Cancer Society suggests prostate screening for average-risk men begin at age 50, high-risk men at 45 (including African-Americans and those with a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 60), and higher-risk men (with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age) beginning at age 40.
Celebrities sometimes share a little too much about their lives. But when celebrities like Stiller, Griffey, and Powell choose to open up about their personal medical history, they are able to reach a wide audience who might just listen and get checked. Know your risk factors. Go see your doctor. Get checked. It might just save your life.