UNITED STATES – Two-time Major League Baseball (MLB) Manager of the Year Joe Torre, a cancer survivor, will be featured on this month’s episode of Sharing Miracles – a 30-minute public affairs television program that tells the compelling and inspirational stories of real patients. Sharing Miracles airs every Sunday morning on more than 300 television stations nationwide.
An iconic figure in baseball, Torre was a noted slugger for the Milwaukee (and later Atlanta) Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the New York Mets. He was voted to the All-Star Team nine times and was named National League Most Valuable Player in 1971.
Today, Torre is best known for his nearly unmatched success as a big league manager. In fact, he is currently ranked fifth in terms of all-time managerial wins. In his 12 seasons with the New York Yankees, he led the team to the post-season playoffs each year, winning six American League Pennants and four World Series titles. He is now the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had the best record in the National League this season before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series (NLCS).
However, his baseball career was almost ended by a foe more formidable than any he faced on the field when a routine check-up led to a prostate cancer diagnosis in 1999.
“I was just devastated,” Torre said in this month’s episode. “It was like being in a black hole. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. My daughter was three at the time, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be there for her when she was growing up.”
However, after consulting a doctor and carefully choosing a course of treatment, he decided to take on cancer as aggressively as he had taken on so many opponents in baseball. The decision to treat his disease through surgery “really helped me get prepared mentally to fight the cancer. I said to myself, ‘Everything’s going to be okay. I’m going to be fine. My family needs me.’”
Torre’s battle with the disease was successful and he remains cancer-free today. His experience has taught him the importance of using his public persona to spread the word about the importance of being tested: “I’ve had so many people come to me and whisper in my ear, ‘Because of you, I’m getting checked for cancer.’”
He went on to say: “The New York Daily News would give daily screenings around Father’s Day, and eight- and nine-year-old boys would tell their fathers, ‘Joe Torre says you should get checked.’”
After all, he points out, “the important thing to realize about prostate cancer is that you can control it. If you can’t cure it, you can control it, and you can live with it. Here I am, still managing 10 years after the surgery and still having a lot of fun and living a normal life.”
Torre’s hope for an end to cancer is shared by people around the world. In fact, President Obama himself this year issued a challenge for a cure for cancer in our lifetime. America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies have taken up that challenge, with more than 800 medicines in development to treat cancer, including 103 intended for prostate cancer. In this month’s episode, Merck scientist Dr. Scot Ebbinghaus discusses current treatment methods available today and Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden appears on the episode to talk about medicines in development to treat breast cancer.
Also featured in this month’s episode is ESPN host Michael Wilbon and former baseball star Darryl Strawberry, who won three World Series rings playing for Torre.