Todd McMillon was just 39 years old when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A husband, father, and former cornerback for the Chicago Bears, Todd committed early on to get regular PSA tests after discovering that he had a family history of the disease. Todd’s doctors told him he didn’t need to start PSA testing until age 40, despite his father’s diagnosis at 54.
He didn’t listen. Rather than go against his instincts, Todd insisted on regular PSA tests during his physical exams. After an unusually high result in January of 2013, Todd found his PSA level had jumped in June of that same year. Following a biopsy and ultrasound, he discovered that he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 54, but I knew this disease didn’t discriminate when it came to age. While doctors persistently told me I didn’t need to start testing until I was 40, I knew that these simple tests done through regular blood work and physical exams could save my life. Though I was regularly getting tested, I still naively thought I was too young, and too healthy to have prostate cancer.
He had his prostate removed in August of 2013, and has since begun speaking out about the importance of awareness, testing, and early detection through his national awareness campaign, Anything For My Prostate. His determination in the face of his diagnosis and treatment serves as encouragement for men – especially in the African American community – to take charge of their health, both for themselves and for their families.
I am grateful that I was informed of the risks which encouraged me to get the regular PSA tests that provided me an early diagnosis. I know that not all men are as aware of their own risks, and many forgo this simple test that could save their lives, like it did mine. I am no longer a face of prostate cancer; I am the face of a prostate cancer survivor.
He was recently interviewed in the September 2015 issue of Ebony about his experience with the disease. He hopes that by telling his story, he can increase awareness of the importance of knowing both your family history and your risk for the disease. Prostate cancer has the highest rate of occurrence in the African American community than in any other group in the world.
Hear from Todd and his wife Erin