NFL Hall of Famer Michael Haynes shares cancer story at 10th Annual Casino Night Gala

“I can’t tell you how many people opened up to me because I was smart enough to open up about my prostate cancer and it changed my life,”  said Michael Haynes NFL Hall of Famer who spoke at the Cancer Resource of the Desert Gala held Friday night.

HOLTVILLE — The Cancer Resource Center of the Desert (CRCD) rolled out the red carpet Friday night at the Imperial Palms Hotel and Resort in Holtville to celebrate the 10th Annual Anniversary Casino Night Gala where NFL Hall of Famer Michael Haynes spoke about his battle with prostate cancer.

Ornate chandeliers illuminated the stage as the Master of Ceremonies John M. Moreno introduced former Los Angeles Raider Haynes as the evening’s keynote speaker.

The hall full of chicly dressed event goers were instantly engaged when Haynes began his prostate cancer testimonial.     

According to Haynes, it was his boss, who is involved with the Player Care Foundation, who first suggested the ex-player go to an NFL screening for retired players.

“I didn’t know what the screening was about except for the fact that I was asked to go by my boss,” Haynes admitted. “When I got there, these ladies asked me to take a blood test to encourage more former players to do it.  And I said, ‘Sure, why not?’” Haynes narrated.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and one in every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer throughout the course of their lifetimes.  Therefore, it is projected that more men will get prostate cancer, than women will get breast cancer. 

The Prostate Cancer Foundation reports that African American men are 1.6 times more likely to developed prostate cancer and 2.6 times more likely to die from the disease than Caucasian men. 

“The doctor told me that if prostate cancer ran in my family, I would have a one in three chance of getting it. Then I replied, ‘Well, I don’t know anybody that has it,’” continued Haynes.

“My Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level was 3.5, but that number by itself meant nothing until compared to other PSA levels,” Haynes explained.

A PSA blood test measures the amount of the PSA protein produced by cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate.

“So, I asked my primary care physician what my baseline PSA was. My PSA was measured at 3.0 four months previous – which is not a significant spike to 3.5. But the doctor also found that two years ago, it was in the 1s.  And since I’m African American as well, I was sent for a biopsy — the only way to know for sure,” explained Haynes.

Biopsies are performed by urologists which are doctors who specialize in the study or treatment of the function and disorders of the urinary system. 

“After the test, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” Haynes confided. “I couldn’t hear anything else.  So many things ran through my head: my family, my kids, the life I’ve had, ‘I’m too young to die.’ I wasn’t ready for this. I wanted it out immediately,” shared Haynes about the moment he was notified.

“Weeks later, I told a lady sitting next to me on a plane that I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and she ended up being an oncology nurse,” Haynes said.

Oncology nurses are advocates for cancer patients and their families to treat the whole person, and not just the cancer, according to Haynes.

“That lady from the plane had a friend that worked with NYU-renowned urologist Dr. Peter D. Scardino, whom I sent results to.  I was told that it was good that I found it early.  After considering various treatment options, I ended up having radical prostatectomy (a surgical operation to remove all or part of the prostate gland) and everything worked out great,” concluded Haynes.

“I want to encourage men to find out if cancer runs in their family,” said Haynes. “Find out their own medical history, which is important to know, because if you know it runs in your family, then when you are 40 or 50 years old, it’ll be the time to talk to your doctor about monitoring your PSA levels.”

“I want everyone to know what I know, because there are too many men who are getting this disease and prostate cancer is treatable — very much like breast cancer, but you have to know the symptoms, you have to know it runs in your family, and you have to treat it early,” stressed Haynes.

During the gala, CRCD co-founder and previous CEO Diana Peacher was recognized for her efforts and contributions toward cancer research in the Imperial Valley.

“I knew that without our services in our community, people would die,” Peacher passionately proclaimed.


After dinner and sponsorship recognitions, a casino event followed to raise money for the Cancer Research organization.

“All right everyone! It was a privilege, now let’s have some fun,” announced CRCD CEO Helen Palomino to close out the formalities.

Participants played casino table games for the opportunity to win raffle prizes, including a one-week stay at the Hilton Bay Front in San Diego, a Laughlin Nevada vacation for two, Del Mar horse race passes for four, amongst various other rewards.  All proceeds went toward cancer research.