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Prostate health forum brings awareness to Hampton Roads residents

By Jordan Crawford | 6/17/2013, 4:01 p.m.
A recent prostate cancer forum held June 15th and 16th brought awareness to a health issue that disproportionately affect Black men.

Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. According to the Prostate Health Guide, over 30 million men suffer from prostate conditions that negatively affect their quality of life.

The guide further states that prostate cancer affects 35 percent of men 50 and over. Over 50 percent of men in their 60s and 90 percent in their 70s or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

The disease affects over 240,000 men in the United States every year taking the lives of about 28,000. According to recent government statistics, the mortality rate for African-American men with the disease is double that.

Charlie Hill, founding member of the Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2002. He underwent surgery to remove his prostate gland at Johns Hopkins Hospital in December 2002.

Hill transformed his prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery into an ongoing community wide campaign in 2007. This is why Hill works tirelessly to raise awareness among them in particular.

This year, the forum, held this past Saturday at Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church in Newport News, hosted events to coincide with men’s health week, and partnered with The Prostate Health Education Network, offering educational events associated with Father’s Day.

In its fifth annual effort, the Education Network aspires to reach one million people with helpful information.

Local urologists and oncologists spoke on the importance of early detection, types of treatment modalities and guidelines, an overview of clinical trials, advanced treatment options and the importance of faith during healing.

Insuring that the message reaches its intended audience, the forum employed the help of members of the Newport News Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Their responsibility was to get all the men they know to attend the events over the weekend.

Rallies and church services were held at St. Mary’s Basilica in Norfolk. These events honored those who have prostate cancer, their caregivers, and those who have died from the disease.

Fact sheets were passed around at local churches and everyone was encouraged to wear blue to honor prostate health on Father’s Day.