D-backs prez Hall launches prostate cancer foundation
Organization's web presence intended to help victims of disease worldwide
PHOENIX -- D-backs president Derrick Hall believes that he was diagnosed with -- and so far spared from the ravages of -- prostate cancer for a good reason: to live the rest of his life helping other victims.
To that end, Hall's Pro-State Foundation website went active on Tuesday hours before his D-backs opened a three-game series against the Rockies at Chase Field. Plus, the D-backs are staging their second annual 5K Race Against Cancer downtown just adjacent to the ballpark at 7:30 a.m. MT on Saturday.
The proceeds from the race are being donated to Hall's new foundation, and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation.
"We all believe things happen for a reason," Hall said on Monday. "I believe one of the reasons I was diagnosed was so that I could spread the word and educate others. Nothing has changed. This gives me yet another larger platform to drive awareness and educate men. It's our breast cancer."
Cancer is a ticking time bomb, and no one knows that any better than Hall, who was diagnosed with the disease and had surgery to remove the prostate 2 1/2 years ago. Earlier this year, he was told he also might have pancreatic cancer -- the disease that killed his father -- although comprehensive tests done at the University of Washington in Seattle proved to be negative.
That gave him only a momentary sense of relief.
Hall undergoes a PSA blood test every three months to make sure that his prostate cancer hasn't spread. He confided on Monday that the last test showed the PSA level was slightly elevated. The doctors will check again in another three months, and if the level continues to elevate between zero and one, he will have to undergo radiation therapy -- five days a week for eight weeks.
"I'm thinking, 'Geez, I'm never here for eight weeks,'" he said. "I don't know how I'm going to make that work."
He will find the time if he has to. Hall has been through this before. After the surgeons discovered that the cancer was wider spread in his prostate than scans had originally detected, they suspected that some cancer cells might have migrated into his blood system. Since then, the PSA level has had a tendency to elevate and then return again to normal, so he has been able to skirt radiation.
But it's like a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, bringing constant anxiety and worry.
"It should be a 0.01 to be completely indetectible," Hall said. "Prior to this one, I think I had three tests that were below 0.01, so it seemed like this was all gone. And now it's above that. The doctor said it could just fluctuate. We'll know in a couple of months. The anxiety, though, of waiting on another test, gosh, hopefully it will go back down.
"It would be one thing if I could enjoy good baseball, winning baseball."
But he doesn't even have that to fall back on right now. The D-backs headed into their series against the Rockies with an 8-20 record and a .286 winning percentage, both figures the worst in Major League Baseball. What's happening on the field is ephemeral. Winning and losing seasons come and go. Certainly, Hall and managing partner Ken Kendrick, another prostate cancer survivor, want to determine the reasons for the poor start. But Hall has life issues that are much more important at the moment, and now he wants to share the wisdom of that experience with other men, and will do so through his foundation.
The numbers for prostate cancer are stark. According to figures provided by the American Cancer Association, more than 250,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year, and one in every six men contract the disease. Meanwhile, in excess of 30,000 of those men die from it on an annual basis.
It is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer, but there are millions of cases of men whom, like Hall and Kendrick, beat the disease and live long and healthy lives.
"It's really going to be a resource for men who have prostate cancer or prostate problems," Hall said about the foundation, which can be accessed through www.pro-state.org. "They can turn to this and find support groups, questions and answers, my story. There's so much involved. You'll see. I'm really excited."
Since the day he learned the news of his diagnosis, Hall has been very public about his condition. In the early going, he sent an email out to all of his friends and D-backs employees to explain what was transpiring, and then held a news conference. He is intent on being the face of the disease. The foundation will remain in the family, with Kendrick on the board and Hall's wife, Amy, heading it.
For the race, like last year, Hall will be out there on Saturday as grand marshal, starter and general glad-hander.
"Anything to keep me from running," he quipped.
That fully fits his personality. He loves to be the emcee, tell jokes, do Elvis impersonations, tell the world that if he can make it, everyone stricken with cancer also can make it.
"I was fortunate that I had a number of people I could turn to in baseball," Hall said. "I can list them all, those who have been through prostate cancer. But most people don't know anyone. They don't know where to turn. Well, now they do. All their answers and resources will be available to them right here on our site."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.