Shannon Sharpe, former tight end for the Denver Broncos and current sports analyst, recently opened up about the diagnosis that changed his life forever. In a routine health screening, doctors discovered he had prostate cancer.
At the age of 54, he can proudly say he is cancer free and living his healthiest life, but he wants to decrease the stigma of prostate cancer and wants to raise awareness about the condition. “Once you hear that ‘C’ word come out of their mouth, okay, damn,” said Sharpe in an interview with media outlet PEOPLE.
His diagnosis came at a relatively inconvenient time; right before he was supposed to relocate to Los Angeles to co-host on FS1 alongside Skip Bayless. “I had been wanting this job for so long and I had been given an opportunity that Skip believed in me,” Sharpe recalled. “I was going to be a co-host of a daily debate show that we talked about football, basketball, track, and field, golf, tennis, social issues, I was the first athlete to do what I do full-time.”
With the stress of his health and a new job on the line, the former NFL player shut down. Instead of opening up to family and friends, he became reclusive. He refused to tell his mother and children about his diagnosis out of fear that they would worry about his health.
Sharpe explained, “The last thing I need you to do is worry about something that you can’t control. You worrying is going to make me worry and that wasn’t going to help our situation.”
Shannon Sharpe was the epitome of health, yet still faced a cancer diagnosis
However, what was perhaps the scariest aspect of his diagnosis, was the fact that he felt completely fine. Since he had a history of prostate cancer, he felt compelled to be screened. But, he was an active health advocate and did everything he could to be healthy; his diagnosis came out of left field.
“I felt fine. I was exercising, eating right, drinking plenty of water, no really bad habits or anything. I thought it was going to be routine,” he commented. “There was no pain, no nothing, and if you had just looked at me, I looked like the picture of health.”
Now that he lives cancer-free, Sharpe is on a mission to break down the stigma of prostate cancer. More specifically, prostate cancer among Black men. According to public health statistics, Black men are two times more likely to be diagnosed with this certain cancer.
“What I want to do now is break down the stigma – do not be afraid to go to the doctor,” Sharpe said. “We need to give Black people more access to healthcare, and then once we get better access to healthcare, don’t be afraid to go use it.”
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