An award-winning activist is on a mission to raise the awareness of the disease that kills 33,000 men a year—82% of which are African-American.
Lifelong Detroit resident Lewis Colson is shouting to the hilltops about the second leading cause of death among men in the state of Michigan. In a city that’s 85% African-American, the award-winning social justice activist with over forty years of youth development experience is now leading Project Better Man. Providing prevention, education, empowerment and awareness to communities, the 2013 BMe Leader believes can allow African-American men to live longer and more productive lives through his “10 Selves concept.”
The former 11 year law enforcement officer turned restaurant entrepreneur was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in 2009 and now is using his recent community impact grant from BMe to amplify the message that: PROSTATE CANCER IS PREVENTABLE
“The BMe grant has afforded us the opportunity to engage, identify and train college students to work with grade levels K-12 in developing community learning projects that expand our prevention and educational efforts. We share information with Millennials and in turn they leverage technology and collective activism to bolster our message and ensure that the younger audiences comprehend the issue(s) and understand the consequences for not taking preventative measures,” says Colson, whose driving force behind the organization is the fact that he didn’t have information about prostate cancer when he was diagnosed.
As stated on the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center website: “African-American men may have the highest rate of prostate cancer incidence in the world. In addition, their prostate cancer mortality rate is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans. In the period from 2003 to 2007, mortality rates were 22.8 cases per 100,000 white men, and 54.2 cases per 100,000 African-American men. African-American men are both more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and to die from prostate cancer than are white men, although the reasons for this are not clear.”
In 2003 the Center for Disease Control presented Us Too International with a five-year award in the amount of $292,530 per year, to fund direct patient education services and outreach to prostate cancer patients from minority and medically underserved populations.
“After the grant ended everything stopped. This has to be revisited. If you look at the forty largest urban cities which average about 200-300 African-American men deaths a year, about 9,000 black males die annually from homicide. That number however is quite small compared to the 27,000 black males from urban communities that die annually from prostate cancer. We’re dying at an alarming rate and unfortunately the debate is on the wrong topic,” explains Colson.
“When disparities fall on the minority side it doesn’t mean as much. The probability of a black male being diagnosed with prostate cancer is one in three if they have a father or brother with the disease. Black males are 97% more likely to have prostate cancer if you have three close relatives that have been diagnosed. Until we can partner with an educational institution or policy organization that can support the research we are trying to do, we will continue to organize and mobilize our communities into think thanks to our own research; this is our issue; this our calling card,” says Duane Barnes, 30, Communications Director, Project Better Man.
The son-in-law of Colson, Barnes says that working closely with Colson gives him a chance to see the struggles and success of someone who came before him. Barnes also praises Colson for imparting into him the importance of taking preventive measures. Barnes got his prostates-specific antigen (PSA) test on his 30th birthday and recommends others do the same.
“Regardless to what you aspire to, or what you think you are, your health is 100 times more important. You can have all the things you want, but when your body stops functioning, the only thing you would wish you had is more time,” says Barnes.
“Black people should go to congress and lobby. The congressional black caucus has a day when they talk about major disparities facing African-Americans; they talk about Prostate cancer. We need to lobby for more federal funding to support targeted research. We need to find out once and for all why our people are dying at an alarming rate to prostate cancer – the dark, deadly and silent killer,” says Colson.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
This post originally appeared at Techbook Online
Photo: C. Norris – ©2013/Lewis Colson