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Sports Heros "Team Up" Against Prostate Cancer


For over two decades, celebrities have entrusted Coping® to tell the world about their personal experience with cancer. We are proud to present this exclusive interview from our archives and hope that it will inspire and encourage all who read it. This article was originally published in Coping with Cancer magazine, September/October 1996.

Celebrity Cancer Survivor

Spokespersons (l to r) Julius Erving, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Len Dawson and Stan Musial are spreading the work about prostate cancer as well as new diagnosis and treatment options.

This year, prostate cancer will be detected in more than 300,000 men, and more than 41,000 will die from the disease. These are the statistics provided by the American Foundation for Urologic Disease (A.F.U.D.) and the Foundation's Prostate Health Council.

Spokespersons Len Dawson, Julius Erving, Stan Musial and Chi Chi Rodriguez are spreading the word about prostate cancer as well as new diagnosis and treatment options. Hopefully, basketball, baseball, football, golf and other sports fans will get the message that, if detected early enough, prostate cancer can be successfully treated and cured. Dawson and Musial are prostate cancer survivors.

In 22 seasons, all with the St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial was named the National League's Most Valuable Player three times (1943, 1946, and 1948). In 1969, he joined Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson and Bob Feller as the only players to be elected into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. During the 1948 season, Musial led the league in batting average, slugging, hits, doubles, triples, runs and RBIs. After "Stan the Man's" retirement, President Lyndon B. Johnson named him the Director of the National Council on Physical Fitness. He held the position of Senior Vice President of the St. Louis Cardinals for more than 25 years.

Hopefully, basketball, baseball, football, golf and other sports fans will get the message that, if detected early enough, prostate cancer can be successfully treated and cured.

"Dr. J" Julius Erving's combination of grace, power, and style made him one of the most accomplished basketball players of all time. He has been named MVP four years during his career with the NBA, and he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Dr. J was one of only seven players in college basketball history to average over 20 points and 20 rebounds for their career. He has been very active in civic and community organizations and has received several awards for his dedication to charitable causes such as the Ebony magazine Jackie Robinson Award for American Black Achievement, the American Express Man of the Year Award, and the Boystown Father Flanagan Award. Currently, he is a sportscaster for NBC Sports.

Len Dawson was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1987. He earned the Most Valuable Player award for his almost flawless performance when he led the Kansas City Chiefs to victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Dawson retired from the NFL after 19 years, ranking 9th in career passing and 8th in career touchdown passes. He currently hosts "Inside the NFL" on HBO, and he's the sports anchor for KMBC-TV in Kansas City. Dawson is a spokesperson for the American Foundation for Urologic Disease and has been the Honorary Chairman of the Variety Club Telethon for several years.

Chi Chi Rodriguez is one of the most entertaining and popular players on the Senior PGA Tour because of his great skill, along with a unique style of playing to the crowd. He was inducted into the PGA World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992 and has won over 25 tournaments. Chi Chi played the PGA Tour for 25 years, but he's become a legend since joining the Senior Tour in 1985. He's active in civic and community organizations, and he's received many awards for his work. In 1979, he established and opened the Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged children.

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A.F.U.D. is a non-profit organization based in Baltimore, Maryland. It was formed in 1987 and is funded solely through private donations. The Prostate Health Council is a 17-member advisory group to A.F.U.D. that is comprised of medical professionals and patients.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, September/October 1996.