Caps off to baseball legend and cancer survivor Darryl Strawberry, who kicked off Brooklyn Hospital Center’s colorectal cancer awareness month on March 5.
The 17-year veteran of the Mets and Yankees spoke about how lucky he was to overcome the illness, and the importance of getting screened early on.
“I’m lucky because I survived twice,” said Strawberry at the hospital on DeKalb Avenue at Ashland Place. “I had symptoms like abdominal pain and blood in my stool. But I was hard-headed; I thought I didn’t need a doctor. I was wrong. And now I’m urging others to get screened for colorectal cancer.”
There were less screenings for the cancer in the borough, especially among communities with a rising incidence of the disease, according to recent research by the hospital’s gastroenterology division, which dedicates itself to combatting the disease.
One doc urged people over the age of 50, and African Americans over 45 years, to speak with their physicians about getting a colonoscopy to test for early signs of cancer.
“We are urging everyone to speak with their primary physicians about getting a colonoscopy. Age 50 for the general population, but 45 years of age for African Americans,” said gastroenterologist Dr. Denzil Etienne.
Strawberry applauded the hospital staff’s good work and said that he has made it his mission to help others as a result of his own experience.
“Continue being a great team. Stick together, show up together,” he said. “I wake up now with an urgency every day to help somebody.”
Kings County should set an example by raising awareness for this disease, according to Borough President Adams, who attended the event.
“As Brooklyn goes, so goes New York City. As New York City goes, so goes the country. As the country goes, so goes the globe,” Adams said.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for a colonoscopy or other colorectal cancer screening with Brooklyn Hospital, call (718) 250–8867. For people without health insurance, the hospital’s Cancer Services Program of Brooklyn can help. Call (718) 250–8708 for more information.
— Kevin Duggan