Ben Stiller has been cancer-free for two years, though no one knew about his 2014 fight with prostate cancer until this week.
In a moving Medium post published on Tuesday, the comedian and actor detailed his shocking diagnosis and its immediate aftermath. His doctor caught it early, and it led to a swift surgery. But like any of us would do, Stiller got morose and Googled his prognosis:
I promptly got on my computer and Googled “Men who had prostate cancer.” I had no idea what to do and needed to see some proof this was not the end of the world. John Kerry… Joe Torre… excellent, both still going strong. Mandy Patinkin… Robert DeNiro. They’re vital. OK great. Feeling relatively optimistic, I then of course had to do one more search, going dark and quickly tapping in “died of” in place of “had” in the search window.
Later in the post, Stiller advocates for a controversial screening method: the prostate-specific antigen blood test.
If he had waited, as the American Cancer Society recommends, until I was 50, I would not have known I had a growing tumor until two years after I got treated. If he had followed the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, I would have never gotten tested at all, and not have known I had cancer until it was way too late to treat successfully.
As Stiller notes, the criticism of the test is that uneducated doctors can misinterpret its findings and send patients to more invasive and unnecessary biopsies. In the end, Stiller makes his essay not an emotional reveal, but rather a space to advocate for PSA tests to men over the age of 40. He finishes his piece with related links to medical journals.
The whole post is worth a quick read—any morose Googling is up to you.