Stand Up to Cancer hits close to home

Stand Up to Cancer is personal for me. It is for everyone, really.

One out of every two men and one out of every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society.

The disease touches virtually all of us, which is why MLB on Fox chose SU2C as its charity for the 2011 season.

I recently lost an uncle, Dr. Fred Sheftell, to colon cancer. My father, Edward Rosenthal, is fighting bladder cancer. And I know so many of you have your own stories to tell.

Which brings us to SU2C and our broadcast this week, the first of three consecutive in East Coast primetime on MLB on Fox.

It has been a privilege for me this season to support NFL linebacker Dhani Jones’ initiative, BowTie Cause, and wear bow ties each week representing different charities.

Saturday night, on our Red Sox-Yankees broadcast from Yankee Stadium, I will wear the new SU2C bow tie in honor of my uncle and in support of my father.

My Uncle Fred, who was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and was particularly fond of Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges. He lived most of his adult life in Stamford, Conn., and was one of the leading headache specialists in the world. Funny thing, though — I never was quite sure which New York team he liked more, the Mets or Yankees. He seemed to root for both.

I recently asked my cousin, Jason Sheftell, which team his dad preferred (you may know Jason as the real estate reporter for the New York Daily News). Jason, a Yankees fan, laughed and said, “He used to humor me by rooting for the Yankees.” But really, Fred just loved the game, and he followed it with two of his defining characteristics — curiosity and passion.

My dad, who was born in the Bronx, is an easier read — he grew up a New York Giants fan, and actually snuck into the Polo Grounds in the late innings on the day Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard Round the World.” He roots for the Mets — the National League successor for the Giants and Dodgers — and to this day maintains a righteous contempt for the Yankees.

Truth be told, my dad’s heart is with the New York Football Giants; to men of a certain age, they will always be called just that. The Mets, at this point, sort of just amuse him. We had dinner the other night, and of course he wanted to know where Jose Reyes and the rest of the team is getting traded.

People often ask me, “Who are your favorite players? Who are your heroes?” Like anyone else, I had my childhood idols (would you believe Ron Swoboda?) But if you want to talk about heroism, talk about my dad, my uncle and all the millions of people who stand up to cancer every day.

My uncle showed incredible dignity in dealing with his disease. My dad is the same, still working as an attorney, always fighting, never complaining, doing his best to get through each day. He turns 75 in October. He is dealing with some other health issues as well. But he rides the subway when he travels from his home in Queens to receive treatment in Manhattan, climbing the steps, dealing with the crowds, joking with folks along the way.

Stand Up to Cancer seeks to increase awareness, promote the understanding that everyone is connected by cancer and raise money for cutting-edge research aimed at finding a cure.

It’s personal for me. It’s personal for all of us.

For more information, contact Stand up 2 Cancer.