Beating cancer creates new joy for Father’s Day

06/06/2014 4:26 PM

06/06/2014 5:13 PM

Earlier this year I received an email that I’d likely never have received until I became a prostate cancer survivor.

It was from the Prostate Health Education Network with the quote, “Knowledge is the best defense against prostate cancer.” It told of something that I never knew took place, and that’s the Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer.

The sixth annual national event is Sunday, getting churches nationwide to take part. The goal this year is to reach more than a million persons. The website bills it as “the largest and most visible prostate cancer education and awareness effort ever undertaken within black America.”

Kansas City area churches need to be involved. Rallies here should include testimonials from survivors and supportive family members, sermons from ministers, joyful singing, gift giving, healthy food and people being thankful that the men in their lives have overcome prostate cancer to enjoy another year with them.

Surgery three years ago removed my prostate and kept the cancer from becoming a death sentence as it was for my grandfather and a couple of my dad’s brothers. But my cancer returned last year. Radiation for nine weeks followed, ending July 18, a day after my 58th birthday. A checkup in December showed me to be cancer free. I return for another check on June 26.

Father’s Day comes first, enabling me to enjoy time with my two daughters. Having church rallies against prostate cancer should help remove the silence and isolation of men with the disease and support family members who may have lost a loved one to prostate cancer. “This prayer service creates a spirit of togetherness and cooperation among those directly impacted, which becomes a powerful step toward overall healing,” says the website, urging congregations to sign up.

Men should learn more about the disease and whether they are at risk. Material is handed out at Father’s Day church services to make more people aware.

African Americans have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world. There are 223.9 new cases of prostate cancer per 100,000 black males compared with 139.9 per 100,000 for whites, 73.3 per 100,000 for Asians, 71.5 per 100,000 for Native Americans and 122.6 per 100,000 for Latinos. The National Cancer Institute noted that in 2011, an estimated 2.7 million men were living with prostate cancer in the U.S.

The institute notes that of every 100,000 men, 147.8 will develop a new case of prostate cancer a year. About 15.3 percent will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. There will be 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer this year — higher than the 232,670 new cases of breast cancer and higher than the 224,210 new cases of lung cancer and 136,830 new cases of colon and rectum cancer.

Prostate cancer represents 14 percent of all new cancer cases in the United States. “Death rates are higher in African American men, men who have advanced stage cancer, and men who are between the ages of 75 and 84,” the institute notes.

But the 29,480 men who will die from prostate cancer this year isn’t as high as for the other cancers. Thank regular screening and treatment. Lung and bronchus cancer had the worst estimated 2014 deaths — 159,260. “Prostate cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the United States,” the institute says.

The Prostate Health Education Network offers monthly live educational webcasts available to churches and special prostate cancer workshops. The purpose is to compel more men to get tested, get treated and survive the disease.

Being able to stick around to enjoy another Father’s Day has to be the main goal. “Working together through the power of prayer we will eliminate the prostate cancer epidemic in black America,” the website states.

There is no greater gift this Father’s Day.

To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

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