5 Ways Al Roker Got it Right Regarding His Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
You may have heard the news that Al Roker of The Today Show was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and is recovering from surgery. We received 100s of messages from fans with an outpouring of support. Get well soon, Al!
There is so much to learn from how Al Roker handled his prostate cancer diagnosis. Here are all of the ways that Al Roker got it right in regards to his prostate cancer:
- He was screened before showing symptoms. Al Roker’s cancer is an early-stage prostate cancer that is confined to the area of the prostate. This is good news and significantly increases his odds of survival. But it is important to note that his cancer was found early because he underwent a PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening at his routine checkup. It is important for men to talk to their doctor about getting screened for prostate cancer even if everything feels fine. PCF recommends that most men start to talk to their doctor about screening at age 45, but that drops to 40 if you have a family history of cancer or are of African descent.
- He practiced shared decision making with his doctors. In an interview with his surgeon, Al Roker discussed that he was not a good candidate for active surveillance (monitoring the cancer closely and deferring treatment to only if and when the cancer shows signs of progression). This is because his cancer, while still within the prostate, appears to be an aggressive form of the disease. It is important to remember that not all prostate cancers are the same, and therefore, not all treatment options will be right for every man. It can be easy to get swept up in personal opinions from friends and family who have gone through a similar experience. But each prostate cancer, each man, and each family is unique.
- He shared his experience to help educate and save others. All too many men choose to keep their prostate cancer diagnosis a secret, or worse: they are too embarrassed to even discuss regular screening with a doctor. But Al Roker has recognized how important it is to educate other men about this disease so that they can proactively talk to their doctor about prostate cancer screening. This is particularly true for African American men, who are more 79% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as compared to other ethnicities. Al’s honesty has the potential to save so many lives and has already inspired others to be open about their own diagnosis. In fact, Al and his team chose to raise awareness about prostate cancer in 2017 and 2019, even before his own diagnosis, when he partnered with PCF to tell men to “Get Checked.”
- He has maintained a relentlessly positive attitude. Al Roker made it very clear in his Today Show announcement of his diagnosis that he is confident that he is going to be okay. He has acknowledged the seriousness of the disease, but he has also acknowledged that prostate cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, particularly when found early. By not viewing his diagnosis as a death sentence and allowing himself to focus on all he has to be grateful for, Al has set himself up to be in the best possible mental state for the recovery ahead of him.
- He is prioritizing his health and taking time off to heal. This may seem like an obvious necessity, but it is an underappreciated step in the recovery process. It can be tempting to put off screening or treatment for as long as possible, especially with the reality of COVID-19 adding an extra layer of fear to medical treatment. Certainly, in some cases your doctor may advise you that it is okay, or even preferable to wait for treatment. But given that Al has an aggressive form of prostate cancer, he has taken the advice of his doctors and has allowed himself to take time out of his busy schedule to take care of his own health and heal.
Everybody who is diagnosed with prostate cancer has a unique journey, and we are grateful to Al Roker for being an example of courage and grace and using his platform to educate others and save lives.