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Restore PSA Testing

StateCancerProfilesMap Blacks 2008-2012 web page

Black Men’s Mortality Rates by States












Black  Americans die from prostate cancer at twice the rate of White Americans as shown by the legion of the above map compared to legion shown in the map below. This trend is repeated in all states where data is reported on Blacks. Note: States not reporting data on Blacks show Whites have higher death rates than other reporting states. Why?

StateCancerProfilesMap Whites 2008-2012 web page

White Men’s Mortality Rates by States

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation in 2012 against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test for adult men of all ages has potentially increased the risk of late detection of curable prostate cancer in African Americans as acknowledged in the article Coalition of doctors advocate for smart prostate cancer screening, which posted in the Saint Louis American on January 28, 2016.

In that article Dr. Lannis Hall, director of Radiation Oncology at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital and leader of the Program to Eliminate Cancer Disparities at the Washington University School of Medicine said, “You don’t want to be diagnosed when its metastatic … you want a diagnosis when it’s localized and you have very good options for curative therapy. If you diagnose prostate cancer and its localized, you have an excellent prognosis.”

Let’s decrease prostate cancer mortality disparity. Tell the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to restore PSA testing for African American men and other men identified at high risk for the disease.


Never Say Goodbye to Equity


Policy Link Equity Summit

Thank-you Ms. Angela Glover Blackwell for refusing to listen to others saying no to your dream. Thank-you for sharing your vision of equity. We, America, heard you and we’re thankful as illustrated by the 3,000 hungry pilgrims that feasted on equity’s entrees at the Los Angles Equity Summit, until a meal was had ─ thanks for the nourishment and fellowship ─ we’ll never say goodbye to you or equity.

Oakland Dreaming

Oakland's Rain Queen

Oakland’s Rain Queen

The rich and poor shared similar dreams last night. Both wanted relief from the drought. The poor awoke wheezing in a smoggy soup while the rich breathed fresh hillside air. This was just another unequal school morning in the city by the bay, waiting for rain.


Restorative Dreams

Sleep had escaped the children, because they were constantly bombarded by  flashing lights and reverberating noises that permeated their neighborhood. Big rig trucks rumbled at night and they awaken to polluted air punctuated by putrid rubbish. They suffered from a lack of morning hugs, each day just another sunrise with sugary treats to eat.

BART train wheels shriek in cadence with bus picking up poor souls crippled by youthful pregnancies. Babies with babies vying for the American dream with immigrants. Collectively, these minimum wage workers daily serve millions of burgers and fries to customers with ever expanding waste lines on death’s crusade.

“Good morning class,” said the petite white teacher to her pre-kindergarteners, a sea of  mostly brown faces with sprinklings of blacks and yellows on the side. Rainbow table patterns blended cultures; however, anger preoccupied the sleep deprived children and their emotional eruptions too often stole others’ educational opportunity, until they nodded off. Saturated with glucose, their poor little heads plopped on table tops, while their ears rung with rappers’ lyrics. Unfortunately, for many fifty-year old great-grandmothers, the Lord has claimed way too many young souls ─ block by block.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Generational decay plagues our urban centers with bullets killing absent fathers guilty of abandoning our collective future. It’s time for a change. Children need to witness fathers talking lovingly and respectfully to mothers. Yes it’s time for a change. Children need to hear parents’ voices  reading bedtime stories. Then maybe restorative dreams will enter their little hearts.

Another sunrise, this time more families are eating balance breakfasts together. Maybe today no head-plops.

Prostate Testing Conundrum

The article ‘Watchful Waiting’ Becoming More Common For Prostate Cancer Patients, presents a perplexing choice for African-American men considering PSA testing.

Dr. Matthew Cooperberg, the Helen Diller Family Chair in Urology at the University of California, San Francisco states in the article, “Ultimately, the number of men who will die of prostate cancer because they chose active surveillance cannot be zero by definition,” and he acknowledged, “But it is a very low number, far lower by most estimations than the number of those harmed by avoidable surgery, radiation, etc.”

The conundrum of  not zero versus very low should especially concern  African-American men since we die at the highest rate from prostate cancer and are statistically under-represented in prostate cancer studies referenced by Dr. Cooperberg.

The article concludes with a statement by Dr. David Penson, the Hamilton and Howd Chair in Urologic Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “One of the arguments against screening is that we are over-detecting and over-treating prostate cancer, and because we are over-treating men who don’t need treatment, we are doing more harm than good. By reducing the rates of overtreatment, we are likely increasing the benefit of screening.”

As an African-American seven year prostate cancer survivor, I’m concerned doctors will use the above arguments and recommend fewer PSA screenings─ thereby reducing African-American men access to data they’ll need to make critical decisions.

Seven years ago my PSA was less than 4; however, its rate of change had increased over the prior three years. I could have waited, but I selected to get a biopsy. My Gleason score was a 3+3, considered by some low risk. But by then at 59-years-old, I had survived tongue cancer thirteen years and neck cancer eleven years. I elected robotic surgery.

What would have been your choice?

Celebrating a 20-Year Journey

My cancer advocacy journey began in 1995, with my tongue sewn to the floor of my mouth. Stripped of voice and engulfed in pain, a nurse gave me used computer paper where I started writing my story of  uncertainty and hope. I survived that week in intensive care along with other weeks of treatments, and years of recovery to evolve into a writer, survivor and now advocate.

I joined a writer’s group called , “Cancer In Other Words,” where we collectively helped each other heal emotionally while traversing landscapes littered with radiation, chemo, and surgery choices. My engineering background enhanced my ability to navigate and share technical information with a nontechnical audience, as demonstrated in, “The Man in the Blue Chamber,” a chapter from my book Life Constricted: To Love, Hugs and Laughter where I describe my hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments.

My article Prostate Cancer Dream Theft examined prostate cancer issues and the consequences of inadequate health care ─ death. I believe society must do better. That’s why I advocate for prostate awareness. Hopefully, my commitment  along with others will improve Black men’s survivorship after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

My greatest achievement to date, a shared smile, given by a prostate support group member after he started cancer treatment. He told me, “I saw the concern on your face after I shared my Gleason scores with you.” I responded, “Please, see a doctor you trust immediately.”

His smile remains priceless, like a child’s first glimpse at lighten-bugs.

Trail of Tears

How long does it take a tear to dry? I don’t know, but is a 184 years too long?

In 1830 the federal government used the Indian Removal Act to force-relocate Indian Nations from the South to Oklahoma (some bound in chains−a trail of tears) in order to transfer hundreds of thousands of acres of their land to white farmers.

Now Republican Governors in many of those southern states are inflicting pain on their citizens with the denial of Medicaid. Do they expect the poor to march west?

I don’t know, but our country has been down this trail and it didn’t work then either.