Mike Haynes was at the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony in 2008 to celebrate the class of 2008 that would be inducted later that week. It was just like every other Hall of Fame ceremony he had been to. Little did he know; his life was about to change dramatically.
In 2008, there was screening at the Pro Football Hall of Fame for men to perform in order to check any signs of prostate cancer. Haynes knew nothing about it, but his boss gave him the idea of going down to complete the screen because if other men saw a Hall of Fame football player do it, then they might follow along. This was nothing, just a blood test that would be beneficial for others to see that they should get theirs checked too. However, just thirty minutes later, Haynes found out something different. “And what was different was about 30 minutes later, they called my name to talk about my blood results. I have never had a blood test where they give you the results that quickly, so I instantly thought, is something wrong?” Haynes said. “The doctor told me you can’t tell from a simple blood test, you need more information, you need to know your baseline.” Haynes then called and met with his primary doctor where he had a biopsy done to see if he indeed had cancer. “The biopsy came back positive, I had cancer in 9 of the 12 places. But I was lucky to find out that I had it.”
Haynes had surgery in 2009 to clear the cancer. It was successful, and Haynes ended up winning the battle with cancer. Now, his focus is being proactive in trying to raise awareness with the, Urological Care Foundation. He leads the campaign “Know Your Stats About Prostate Cancer.” They are now in their 10th year of a partnership with the NFL. The stats are very alarming. One in every nine men will at some point in their life be diagnosed with prostate cancer. One in six African-American men will be diagnosed with the disease, and if it runs in your family, one in five men. “They asked me to be and I willingly said yes because I realized most men are like me. They’re not likely to get screened. They don’t really want to know if they have this disease.” Haynes said when asked why he got involved with this association. “I realized maybe I could make a difference if I can convince guys to talk it.”
There are two main reasons that this is so important for Haynes to be involved with this association. First, Haynes talked about how alarming the stats are for African-American men. Not only are the numbers so high for them, but most African-American men do not know about prostate cancer and the risk they have of getting it. Haynes wants to be able to get more men to get checked saying, “I figured if talk to guys and say come on you guys, you’ve got to do it, get off the couch and get yourself checked.” He wants to raise the awareness for African-American men that way if they do have it they can be treated before it is too late.
Next, Haynes talked about how fortunate he is to have this platform. It is important to him to use this platform because many other men who have had this disease cannot. Being a pro football hall of fame player means he can get the attention of men. A lot of men look up to football players and when they speak, men listen. Not only is Haynes actively speaking out, but he is getting other hall of famers to join him. Men like Marcus Allen, Chris Carter, and Michael Irvin. “All these guys want to make a difference. Having the ability to use our hall of fame status to get the attention of men, it makes a lot of sense.”
Haynes is not just trying to get the attention of men. As time goes on he is realizing that it is important to focus on making sure women know because a mother or wife can make sure their son or husband get screened. That is one of the key characteristics to his current campaign. The more people that can understand how common this disease is, the more it benefits men because they will be able to catch the cancer earlier and have a better chance to beat it.
Haynes continues to go to as many events as possible to spread the word about prostate cancer. “We’re trying to coordinate opportunities where there is going to be a lot of press, like the draft. We just try to get as many media opportunities as we can to try to tell a story and hopefully encourage men to at least talk to their doctors about it. That’s the main goal.” After years of having this platform, Haynes has spread his story to many people and has continuously helped raise awareness about this disease. He feels that it is important to make sure he uses this platform to reach as many people as possible because he can save lives by doing so.
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