By Kristine Sorensen Griffin • Photos from Kristine Sorensen Griffin
KDKA-TV ANCHOR KRISTINE SORENSEN SHARES THE STORY OF THE JOURNEY SHE AND HER HUSBAND, MARTY GRIFFIN, ARE TAKING.
I never thought I would spend my son’s 8th birthday at the offices of my husband’s cancer surgeon and chemo and radiation doctors. It was August 3, 2018.
I listened in shock as the doctors told us how my husband, Marty Griffin, has cancer triggered by HPV (human papilloma virus) in his tonsil and the base of his tongue. The doctors gave us the good news first: the standard treatment is successful in 90 to 95% of people with this type of cancer. The bad news: the tonsillectomy and seven week radiation and chemo treatments are rough on the body and can cause some longterm challenges.
Several days and many prayers later, I came up with a mantra to get me through this ordeal, harnessing the spirit of Marty’s Mom and Dad, who both passed away in the last two years: We will get through this together. By together, I mean with the help of our family, friends, faith, colleagues, community and our incredible medical team. We are so blessed to have this much support.
Many people know Marty for his KDKA-AM Radio show and his “Get Marty” consumer stories on KDKA-TV. He has helped hundreds of people in need with everything from a stair lift, to a new roof, to a new house. He got his diagnosis just as he is launching his own new company and website, Sparkt.com, with the mission to expand on all the good he was able to do through TV and to motivate people to take action to do good themselves. At first, we thought, how could this be happening now, just as we are embarking on something new and exciting? Then Marty realized his journey is exactly what Sparkt is about: telling stories of hope and inspiring people to take action.
With that in mind, we decided together to use Marty’s story to spread the word about the HPV vaccine. This simple, safe vaccine can prevent the cancer he has, as well as cervical and other cancers in women and men. The vaccine came out in 2006, so it’s too late for our generation, but Marty and I want to show what’s happening to him so that parents know what can happen to their children if they are not vaccinated. Sadly, more than half of adolescents ages 13-17 do not have the full HPV vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s statistics from 2017.
HPV-related cancer in men is becoming more and more common. In 2015, 33,700 cases were diagnosed. In women, we have the Pap smear to detect cervical cancer caused by HPV, but there is no such test for men’s HPV cancers.
As parents, we have difficult choices to make about our children’s health and many other issues. Marty and I hope you will take the time to read credible information about the HPV vaccine if your children are between the vaccine-eligible ages of 9 to 26. You can find reliable information at Sparkt.com/MartysJourney where Marty is sharing his journey through treatment in live videos and providing links to accurate information about HPV and the vaccine.
Since Marty started sharing his story, people all around the region are already telling us they are getting their children vaccinated when they otherwise wouldn’t have. That means cancers are being prevented and lives could be saved. Each time we hear one of these stories, I am so grateful for the platform we have been given, despite the challenges we face ahead.
Out of something bad, always comes something good. I just never thought we would see the good so soon.