Taking a Stand Against Prostate Cancer
President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks Derrick Hall made a name for himself in baseball for his pioneering spirit, driving determination and always-positive attitude. However, on the morning of September 17, 2011, Hall received the devastating news that he had prostate cancer. After a long and tearful conversation with his wife, Hall made the bold decision to go public with the news. A naturally positive person, Hall was determined that he could and would beat prostate cancer, and with the help and support of his family, he endured surgery and treatment all with unwavering positivity. Along the way, Hall openly shared his journey and the challenges that he faced, encouraging all men to get tested for prostate cancer and viewing his battle as an opportunity to be a resource for men. With this in mind, the Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation was founded as an open platform where men could go to and get the tough questions answered. Today, the Foundation offers a vast array of resources and support for both men and their families with the vision of driving awareness, educating men and encouraging them to get tested. Here, Derrick Hall shares his inspirations and plans for the Pro-State Foundation.
What was your biggest influence in starting the Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation?
My motivation was really just to help others and to let them know my story, let them know that they should not be embarrassed or scared, that there are men out there to help them through it. Ultimately, I would love to know that there’s a cure for it other than just surgery or these other methods, but until then I want to make sure that I can walk people through all the different options, make sure they can put their minds at ease as they are going through it, and put their families’ minds at ease, too. It’s not just a website for men, but a website that women and family members and friends can go on as well to know what their husband, what their father, their uncle, whoever, may be going through, and to be there to help them and support them as well.
Your motto is “A Pro-State of Mind is a Powerful Medicine.” What does that personally mean to you?
Just the name in itself — rather than “prostate” to change it to “pro-state” with a hyphen, and to make it a “pro-state of mind,” — because I think every patient, every victim needs to make sure he, or she, when it comes to cancer, is as positive as possible to get through it. It’s amazing the recovery time, the ability for the body to recover when the mind is going through positive thoughts, and so I’m just trying to remind men, especially those going through prostate cancer, to have a very “pro-state of mind,” and that was really the vision behind the name.
How is maintaining a “pro-state of mind” essential when battling prostate, or any other cancer?
Personally, that’s just who I am. I’m a very positive person. I love life, I live life to the fullest; I think everybody needs to, and cancer can create such a dark cloud over our heads that we have to find a way to turn it into a positive. It’s all about overcoming diversity and getting through it knowing that there are others with you and that you’re not alone, so naturally you want to stay as positive as can be for them as well. I admire those who fight any disease, and in particular cancer, with a strong attitude and a positive mindset and tend to believe that survival is a little longer, and in some cases completely defeated, because of that positive will and that positive attitude. I highly encourage people to stay as positive as can be and if our name and if our foundation provides just a glimmer of that, and a bit of hope and light, then its extremely rewarding for me.
How has surviving prostate cancer impacted your outlook?
It definitely changed it. I think at first there was definite depression and fear, you start thinking about your own mortality, but then you quickly turn it around. There’s something extremely powerful in saying that you’re a cancer survivor, and so that’s the way I was looking at it. I’m always going to have it in the back of my mind, there’s always going to be that anxiety because I still need to be tested and there’s always that fear that it could come back again. But then you can’t control that, and things that you can’t control you shouldn’t let lead your life, so I just keep thinking about all the positives— having beat it—and I continue to believe, and I always will.
What advice would you give to men battling prostate cancer?
I would say, as I say to all of them, “You’re going to be okay, your life is going to change a little bit, but you’re going to be okay.” For me, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that I got cancer so I could share it with others; share my story and hopefully be encouraging and motivational for them to battle it, and use my national platform and stage here with a major league baseball team to spread the word. I always tell people that there were some dark days, but for the most part it’s okay and you’re not alone.
What are your future goals for the Foundation?
The vision is to one dat make sure that we have a surplus of individuals that have gone through cancer who are willing to volunteer their time, their voice and their experiences. Then, taking it a step further where I can partner with some of the other foundations that are currently providing testing and see if we can’t either reduce dramatically the cost of testing or provide free testing and screening throughout our state and eventually go nationwide. Pro-State.org