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Prostate Cancer Awareness

by Rev. Percy McCray
Prostate Cancer Awareness

Orenthal James Simpson, or otherwise known as OJ Simpson recently died from effects of Prostate cancer.

This comes on the heels of the passing of Dexter King, Martin Luther King’s son, who died from the same disease on January 22 this year.

Much has been said and written about the polarizing feelings and emotions attached to OJ Simpson’s life post his stellar hall of fame football playing career.

When I heard of this news, I did not focus on anything in his personal life, but rather my mind pondered on the impact of men from all levels of society dying of prostate cancer.

As one who has directly worked with the cancer community for over two decades as a spiritual support leader (chaplain), and one who is a five-year colon cancer survivor, upon hearing of the news of Kings and Simpsons passing, my thoughts and reflections turned toward Prostate Cancer Awareness Education and how to offer more than just condolences to this sad occasion?

Some important data points to be considered according to the American Cancer Society…

  • Prostate cancer risk is also higher in African American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races.
  • Higher incidence and mortality rates for Black men for prostate cancer are exceptionally concerning and conversations about screenings for this disease should start at 45 years of age, some are even recommending age 40.
  • A simple ‘prostate specific antigen’ (PSA) blood test can be facilitated at one’s local family practice physician for screening.
  • In 2023 there were about 299,000 new cases of prostate cancer and over 35,250 deaths from the disease in the United States.
  • Prostate cancers diagnosed each year declined sharply from 2007 to 2014. However, since 2014 the incidence rate has increased by 3% per year overall and by about 5% per year for advanced-stage prostate cancer.
  • About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
  • Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men. About 6 in 10 prostate cancers are diagnosed in men who are sixty-five or older, and it is rare in men under forty.
  • The average age of men when they are first diagnosed is about sixty-seven.
  • Prostate cancer detected early has a five-year relative survival rate of 99%.

Given the current data statistics about prostate cancer, the cautionary tale for all men and especially for African American men, is see your doctor and ask for a PSA blood screening beginning as soon as the age of 40 years old.

What are some barriers that prevent men from seeking a discussion about prostate screenings with their respective healthcare providers?

  • Many men do not know what their prostate is.
  • Many men do not know where their prostate is.
  • Many men embarrassed and are redescent talking about their prostate health.
  • Many men feel discussions about one’s prostate may represent sexual weakness.

Understanding that early detection is key to achieve prostate cancers 99% relative five-year survival rate means that men, in most likelihood may require encouragement from family, friends, and wives to make this annual screening a priority.

In my many years of supporting prostate cancer patients, I have talked with many men who, with tears in their eyes, have told me that they wished someone would have told them much sooner about the possible consequences of not understanding and making a commitment to prostate wellness checks.

Some undesirable side effects that may go with a prostate cancer journey potentially require mental, emotional, and social support from one’s inner circle and community.

  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Sexual intimacy insecurities
  • Urinary leakage
  • Marital relationship strain and challenges

The bigger lesson that we can take from the passing of Dexter King, OJ Simpson and countless other men who have been struck by a prostate cancer diagnosis includes:

  • Have a prostate wellness conversation today, that may prevent you from having conversation later that will dismay!
  • Be early, not late, with a screening of your prostate.
  • Giving a drop of blood is easy, vs. giving your prostate can be queasy.
  • Consider all treatment options first, before having prostate surgically removed.
  • Be swift to be your prostate cancer advocate.

Prostate Cancer AwarenessRev. Percy McCray is a former hospital bedside chaplain, colon cancer survivor,
seminar trainer, and cancer subject matter expert. He is the President of Percy McCray Ministries, whose mission is to equip, engage and empower people of faith living with cancer to “fight the good fight of faith.” His organization provides spiritual and practical insights, inspiration, and instruction for holistic health and well-being.

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