Health + Wellness

Shannon Sharpe On Prostate Cancer Screening: “Saved My Life”

Shannon Sharpe
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

A few months ago, when Janssen reached out to Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe to promote a campaign encouraging Black men to get tested for prostate cancer, they had no idea that he could relate to the campaign more than they could imagine.

“At the time, they asked me to do it, they had no idea I had been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer,” Sharpe says. “Black men, we’re two times more likely to develop prostate cancer, but there’s a 96% survival rate if screened early and detected early.

“I’m a part of that 96%,” Sharpe, who was diagnosed in 2016 when he went in for a routine screening reveals.

RELATED: Shannon Sharpe, 50+ and in the Best Shape of His Life!

Hearing the ‘C’ word

When he got the diagnosis, he was at the height of his career preparing to relocate to Los Angeles to co-host a gig on FS1 alongside Skip Bayless.

“Once you hear that ‘C’ word come out of their mouth, okay, damn. It was difficult..this was my dream job,” he tells PEOPLE.

“I had been wanting this job for so long and I had been given an opportunity that Skip believed in me. I was going to be a co-host of a daily debate show that we talked about football, basketball, track and field, golf, tennis, social issues, I was the first athlete to do what I do full-time.”

“I didn’t want this opportunity to go away because I wanted to show that athletes could do more than talk about their best sports, the Undisputed: Skip and Shannon analyst shares. “I felt that there were a lot of people counting on me to be able to go fulfill this obligation that I had been given.”

Sharpe shared the news with only four people: his brother, sister and girlfriend at the time.

Not wanting to worry his family, it was “at least a year” before he “felt comfortable enough” to tell his mom and three kids. 

“The last thing I need you to do is worry about something that you can’t control. You worrying is going to make me worry and that wasn’t going to help our situation,” he explains. “They did after a while. I think they understood that Dad is strong. Dad can do it. Dad does a great job of compartmentalizing.”

Due to his family history, the 54-year-old began

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