Ben Stiller counts himself as one of more than 180,000 American men who battle prostate cancer every single year. During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Stiller went public with his diagnosis of a “mid-range aggressive” form of prostate cancer back in 2014.
Thankfully, Stiller, who was 48 at the time of diagnosis, has been cancer-free for two years after a successful surgery to remove the prostate. Now, he’s made it his mission to educate people about how to effectively detect the disease.
“It came out of the blue for me,” he said. “I had no idea.”
Stiller and his surgeon appeared on Stern’s show to praise the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test, which helps indicate the presence of prostate-cancer-related antigens in the blood.
In an accompanying essay on Medium, the actor-director explained how the screening was instrumental after his initial diagnosis, which placed him on a “crazy roller coaster” ride to rid cancer from his system.
“As my new, world-altering doctor spoke about cell cores and Gleason scores, probabilities of survival, incontinence and impotence, why surgery would be good and what kind would make the most sense, his voice literally faded out like every movie or TV show about a guy being told he had cancer … a classic Walter White moment, except I was me, and no one was filming anything at all,” he wrote.
“Right after I got the news, still trying to process the key words echoing dimly in my head (’probability of survival-vival-vival-val … ‘ ‘incontinence-nence-nence-ence … ‘), I promptly got on my computer and Googled ‘Men who had prostate cancer,’” Stiller continued. “I had no idea what to do and needed to see some proof this was not the end of the world.”
Stiller says he hopes being open about his own experiences will lead to greater awareness of prostate cancer’s symptoms.
To read Stiller’s entire essay on his prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, head over to Medium.