Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in the United States. In fact one in six men will face prostate cancer in his lifetime. In an ongoing effort by Major League Baseball, pitchers John Smoltz of the St. Louis Cardinals and Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves, are spreading the word about prostate cancer awareness through the "One A Day Men's Presents MLB Strikeout Prostate Cancer Challenge."
This is the second year of the Strikeout Prostate Cancer Challenge. During the inaugural 2008 season, the program raised a total of $333,780. Based on that success, One A Day and Major League Baseball have teamed up again to make a $10 donation for every strikeout recorded this season and postseason to The Prostate Cancer Foundation, the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research. To date, this year's program has raised a total of $268,570 with more to come.
Called “One A Day Men's Presents MLB Strikeout Prostate Cancer Challenge,” One a Day is donating $10 for every strike-out thrown by a Major League pitcher this season to help find a cure for prostate cancer. In addition, Derek Lowe has pledged to personally donate an additional $10 for every strikeout he throws during the season. As of a few weeks ago, the total was $204,330 and Derek and I had a chance to talk about his participation.
Why did you decide to do this?
For me it was easy. I had squamous cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer) about seven years ago and I have a scar on my nose to prove it. I was going through difficulties. There were never any signs of it. It never ran in my family. And back then I was able to reach the kids about the importance of skin cancer and tell them the preventative steps to take. So when this opportunity was offered to me, I took it.
Did you mind talking about your condition instead of keeping it private?
Not at all. Being an athlete can use it as an advantage. I spoke to a lot of children. I can talk baseball for two hours, then talk about skin cancer. And the parents will tell me that out of all the things I said, that’s the most important.
When you are on the mound, do you think about the commitment you made about strikeouts?
I’m thinking about pitching, but in the back of my mind, I definitely know that every strike I throw is going to raise money for the foundation. You try to do the best you can to get strikeouts.
How easy is it for guys to talk about prostate cancer?
Guys really don’t talk about health. It’s not the manly thing to do. You don’t talk about it amongst your friends, but you should. It’s never too late to start. I’m very happy and proud that I get checked every spring training. It’s never too late to just start getting tested. Talk about it at work and at home. The gist of the whole program is to get people talking about it. The treatment has come so far, so if you do have it, once you get diagnosed, chances are it’s better that it was caught early. The main thing is a lot of people have a fear of knowing, but don’t be afraid to find out.