“I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2023 as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent and cure prostate cancer.”
September signifies Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, casting a spotlight on a significant health concern for men. Prostate cancer ranks as the most common non-skin cancer among men and is second only to lung cancer in cancer-related male mortality. This disease arises in the walnut-sized prostate gland, crucial for reproductive function, often evolving silently in its early stages, with noticeable symptoms emerging later in advanced phases. Effective screening tools exist, allowing for early detection and favorable survival rates. In 2023, the National Cancer Institute’s projections indicate that over 868,300 men in the United States will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, with around 34,700 expected to lose their lives to the disease.
While age remains a significant risk factor, other variables come into play, including family history, African-American ethnicity, smoking, and obesity. Notably, African American men confront a higher death rate, twice that of their white counterparts, due to prostate cancer. This disparity is attributed to a complex interplay of genetic and socioeconomic factors. During this awareness month, our collective focus should be on acknowledging the prevalence of prostate cancer, understanding its risk factors, and striving to diminish healthcare disparities, emphasizing education, early detection, and equitable access to quality healthcare as essential components in the ongoing fight against this disease.
The late Colin Powell, renowned for his military service and political career, battled prostate cancer in 2003. He underwent successful surgery to remove the cancerous prostate gland at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After his recovery, Powell became a strong advocate for prostate cancer awareness, dedicating his time to the Prostate Conditions Education Council. His message was clear: regular prostate examinations are vital for early detection and improved outcomes.
Harry Belafonte, the iconic actor, activist, and singer-songwriter, added “cancer survivor” to his illustrious resume in 1996 when he defeated prostate cancer. Belafonte’s candidness about his journey, including the challenges he faced post-surgery with incontinence, helped destigmatize the topic. He emphasized that a prostate cancer diagnosis doesn’t define one’s manhood; it’s about how you handle it and seek support.
“I want to be profiled to waken the nation to this crisis. Especially African American men, who are more prone to this disease, have to be made aware and encouraged to seek the medical attention they need and deserve.” – Harry Belafonte to Oncolink
Ken Griffey Sr.
Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder and three-time all-star Ken Griffey Sr. faced prostate cancer in 2006, despite his commitment to regular screenings due to a family history of the disease. Fortunately, early detection allowed for successful treatment, and Griffey remains cancer-free to this day. He now encourages other Black men to prioritize screenings and lean on their families for support.
Sidney Poitier, the legendary actor who broke barriers in Hollywood, confronted prostate cancer in 1993. He underwent a successful surgery to treat the disease, showcasing that even icons can face health challenges with resilience and grace.
Poitier lived a long life, passing away in 2022 at the age of 94. He left behind a legacy that many only dream of living up to.
“Through his groundbreaking roles and singular talent, Sidney Poitier epitomized dignity and grace, revealing the power of movies to bring us closer together. He also opened doors for a generation of actors. Michelle and I send our love to his family and legion of fans,’” – Barack Obama
Nelson Mandela, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and revered South African leader, endured numerous challenges during his lifetime, including imprisonment and political struggles. While incarcerated, in 1985, he underwent surgery for an enlarged prostate. In 2001, he received radiation therapy for microscopic prostate cancer. His remarkable journey serves as a testament to the importance of facing health challenges with unwavering determination.
These remarkable individuals have not only conquered prostate cancer but have also left enduring legacies of resilience and advocacy. Their stories inspire men everywhere to prioritize their health, engage in open conversations about cancer, and face adversity with courage.