Journey to ZERO_banner

I'm Living Proof: Jerry Bembry's Prostate Cancer Journey

ESPN writer, Jerry Bembry

Prostate cancer came into my life swiftly and unexpectedly.

Like a tornado, it was fast and furious, leaving devastation in its wake. 

First, it came for my brother.

In 2006, he sat me down in the living room of his home and told me about his prostate cancer diagnosis. By that time, the cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes and wreaked havoc on his body. Tragically, he passed away in 2010.

The following year, my brother-in-law received the same fateful news. Fortunately, his cancer was caught early and his surgery was successful. The relief I felt knowing that our family was spared further loss was immense. 

Later that year, in 2011, it was my turn. Before my family was affected, I had never considered the possibility of prostate cancer affecting me. But after losing my brother and my brother-in-law’s close call, I made the decision to take a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test. An alarming spike in my PSA levels prompted a follow-up biopsy. My worst fears were confirmed.

Prostate cancer at 48 years old.  

Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. After I had surgery in 2012 to remove my prostate, I have been living cancer-free for the past 12 years.

Early detection gifted me life and health—something I failed to fully appreciate until I was faced with the mortality of my loved ones.

There’s truth in the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” 

What didn’t I know about prostate cancer? I now realize how little I knew about this widespread epidemic at the time.

That’s why I went public with my cancer diagnosis just before my surgery in 2012. I wanted to raise awareness and educate others about the dangers of prostate cancer. To save lives.

I want to share some startling statistics with you:

  • One in eight men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. 
  • One in six African American men will be diagnosed, the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world.
  • It’s the second most common cancer among men and the second leading cause of cancer death among men.

“The Silent Killer”—that’s what prostate cancer is called, and for good reason; there are usually no symptoms. Men who avoid regular screenings may have no idea that a deadly disease is quietly taking hold of their bodies. 

When I received my diagnosis in 2011, I felt perfectly healthy. However, I failed to take my PSA test the previous year. I was shocked to find out my PSA levels had doubled in just two years.

Luckily, the aggressive cancer was still confined to my prostate. My doctor said if I had waited even six more months, this could have dramatically altered my odds…

I will forever be grateful to my brother-in-law for guiding me during my diagnosis and treatment. He served as a personal mentor through my entire process, connecting me with his doctor, providing emotional support, and demonstrating life could return to normal after recovery. He provided a calming presence during one of the most difficult phases of my life.

In an effort to pay his kindness forward, I have made it my mission to inspire and inform other men. I wrote about my cancer diagnosis in the year of my surgery, documenting my thoughts, fears, struggles, and much more. Over the past 12 years, many men—old friends, new acquaintances, former colleagues, and even wives of men who choose to keep their ordeal private— have reached out to me for advice. 

I always answer their calls.

I constantly offer them hope. 

And I make this plea to all men: 

Schedule a regular PSA test. It just might save your life.

I’m living proof. 

It saved mine.

Support and Resources

decorative background image

More Stories

From the latest news stories to our podcasts and videos, learn more about prostate cancer your way.