Mark McKinnon
Mark McKinnonImage by: Mark McKinnon
Mark McKinnon
19 November 2020

How my Dad's prostate cancer diagnosis changed the way I looked at the disease

Mark McKinnon
3 minutes read time

Actor Mark McKinnon opens up about leading a purpose-driven life

I lost my father to prostate cancer and it made me realize this disease can come out of nowhere. His diagnosis was a shock to our whole family. My father was a completely healthy man who took good care of himself and had a military background. It encouraged me to make sure that I get checked ahead of time.

Working on the film, “The Waiting Room” this summer was tough at first because it follows the lives of two women in a doctor's waiting room as they await to hear if they have breast cancer. I then realized the impact this was going to make on my community and those who are fighting cancer.

After losing my grandmother to breast cancer and father to prostate cancer, I wanted to make sure my career wasn’t just about entertainment, but about the impact I could make in the world. The message in the film is no matter how old or young you are or how good your life may be going; it can happen to you if you’re not taking care of your health. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get checked because then the fight is even harder. When you go in advance to get yourself checked out, you are doing everything you can to make the fight easier.

When I looked into Movember, I saw it was all about health and taking care of yourself. I’m a man who loves to be healthy and when I saw that, I thought it would be great to connect with this movement because I want to be part of something that takes health seriously. One of the ways I maintain my health is through exercise. I start my mornings off with a little stretching for 10 to 15 minutes. Then I go to the gym 5 times a week and do some cardio and lift weights. It’s a fight every day but I’ve been working on my diet and eating clean. I love playing basketball to reduce stress levels and I also enjoy jogging. Once a month I go to the spa to keep my body relaxed and mentally stay at a good, peaceful place.

When Covid hit, it was very easy to go into a slump. Business was affected greatly. Art was affected greatly. Like so many others, I found myself going to a place where I had to make sure I’m good—mentally and emotionally. As an athlete, everything comes down to discipline. When it comes to mental health, there are some disciplines that you want to have in place to make sure your mental health is in check. Daily practices like meditation and exercise help encourage good mental health. Faith also grounds me as a man and as a human being. In the arts, it’s very easy to lose yourself. Say it’s been a slow month or a slow year; my faith is what keeps me going and helps me stay in my purpose. Purpose is all about how you’re helping someone else.

For those out there who might be facing a prostate cancer diagnosis, I want them to understand they’re not alone. The fight is amongst many. Listen to what the doctors tell you to do and do whatever it takes to help fight the battle of prostate cancer. I know it’s not always easy, but you have the power to control your future. We go through things in life that will really set us up for the next thing that’s in place for us.