When Jonathan Zierdt decided to go public with his fight against kidney and prostate cancer, one of his goals was to raise awareness about men’s health and the need for men to take it seriously.
He knew some people might listen. But he was unprepared for the emails and phone calls he would get.
“I have a hard time thinking of a day I haven’t gotten a card or email wishing us the best,” he said.
One card in particular, from a North Mankato man, illustrated what’s been happening.
The man told Zierdt about his own father battling and defeating prostate cancer 20 years ago and praised Zierdt for having the courage to go public with the fight.
“And he also said, ‘I want you to know that because of what you’re doing, I made a long-overdue appointment with my doctor,’” Zierdt said.
He’s gotten dozens of calls and emails like this, all of them thanking him for showing men it’s crucial to take your health seriously.
So Zierdt finds himself in the position of being thrust into the limelight as a spokesman for men’s health. With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. The American Cancer Society estimates about 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2014, and about 29,000 of them will die. Roughly 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
■ According the ACS, prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
■ Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 in 36 men will die of prostate cancer.