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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You know him as the straight-talking host on KDKA Radio and the people problem solver “Get Marty.”
But now meet Marty Griffin, cancer patient, checking into Hillman Cancer Center for treatment.
It came out of nowhere, a stunning shock just as he left KDKA-TV for a new career, launching an internet company called “Sparkt.”
Doctors worked quickly, diagnosing and removing the malignancy from Marty’s neck.
Now facing seven grueling weeks of chemo and radiation, Marty has grown reflective about the preciousness of life and family, affirming his commitment to beat this for his wife, KDKA anchor Kristine Sorensen, and his three beautiful children — Sophia, Chloe and Vincent.
“We’re all laying on a blanket in a park, all of us, and the kids are laughing, and I’m thinking, man, this has to be preserved. This is historic love. This is the reason we’re here,” Marty said.
But Marty not only has his own family in mind, but yours as well. The root of this cancer is HPV, the human papillomavirus, a virus transmitted through common sexual contact.
An estimated 80 million Americans carry it in their bodies, and 15 million more each year. For most, it stays dormant, but more and more, it manifests itself in cancer — cervical cancer in women, throat cancer in men.
Marty is sharing his own personal battle in a very public way to urge parents to have their kids vaccinated.
“Why not use this platform and this sort of thing to get moms and dads to do the right thing? By doing the right thing, just read the truth about this vaccine, man,” Marty said.
“One of the things patients ask doctors all the time is, what would you do with your family? That’s what I’ve done with my family. They all get vaccinated,” Dr. Robert Ferris, an oncologist and director of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, said.
Ferris is passionate about nipping HPV in the bud, saying that if your 11- or 12-year-old gets the recommended two doses of the vaccine, he or she will not get this type of cancer in the future.
“To keep somebody from going through this seems like a small thing that we’d really want to avoid and use this vaccine that’s sitting right in our hand and not have to use a much more toxic approach 10 or 20 years later,” Ferris said.
Marty begins chemo and radiation Tuesday, and with Kristine by his side, keeping copious notes of the treatment and meds, Marty’s good to go. The prognosis is a good one; more than 90 percent of those treated for this type of cancer survive.
“I’m focusing on the great treatment we’re going to get and the positive outcomes that I know we’re going to have,” Kristine said.
Still, Marty’s message could not be more clear: it’s best to be avoided in the first place.
“Hopefully someone will grasp onto this. If that could happen to him, it could happen to me, and it could happen to my kids. I can’t allow this to happen to my kids. All I have to do is get a vaccine,” Marty said.