Public awareness about female cancers is at its all-time highest, but, sadly, male cancers still aren’t getting enough attention.
No man is immune to them, and many men who do get cancer fight it in silence, but Homeland star Mandy Patinkin isn’t one of them.
Mandy Patinkin on his life-changing diagnosis
Most of us know Mandy as Inigo Montoya from the timeless classic The Princess Bride and as Saul Berenson on the long-running TV drama Homeland. Some of us know him as a musician, but few people are aware that Mandy is also a prostate cancer survivor.
It was 2004 when the actor was diagnosed with the disease. He was 51, and he was shaken by the diagnosis, as his dad lost his life to pancreatic cancer when he was about the same age.
In an interview with Coping with Cancer, Mandy recalled his first reaction to the news:
I felt lightheaded and overwhelmed, and I was weeping on the phone.
Fortunately, the disease was detected early, and doctors told him his best treatment option was a radical prostatectomy. Mandy was worried about possible side effects of the procedure, but he went ahead with it anyway: his priority was saving his life, not least for the sake of his beloved wife and children.
As expected, the surgery was successful.
Mandy admits that his cancer scare was terrifying, but it also changed his life for the better. He told Coping with Cancer:
Ever since I got cancer and went through the surgery and recovered, I’ve realized that aside from my wife and children, cancer was the greatest gift I was ever given.
After surviving cancer, the actor developed a new kind of appreciation for everything he’s blessed with in his life:
I always appreciated my life, my wife, my kids, my music, the fact that I get to do what I love. But I took my life for granted. I would say I didn’t, but I did. I was kidding myself. And after cancer, every day, including this second while I am talking to you, is precious to me – every sunrise and sunset, every walk in the park, every visit with my children, every time I hold my wife, every time I get to perform.
The scary experience also made Mandy more optimistic about the future:
And I’m so very aware, as I never was before cancer, that I may live to 100. I hope I do. I probably will never die from prostate cancer; I don’t have a prostate anymore. But I know that life could be over in 5 seconds, or 50 minutes, or 50 years. I just hope I get 50 years rather than 50 minutes.
Not only does Mandy value his own life more than before, he also helps make other people’s lives better. His health scare and his role on Homeland inspired him to become an advocate for refugees’ rights.