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HEALTH MATTERS: Survivor offers straight talk about prostate cancer

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that prostate is the number one cancer risk for men and the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in men. According to the Prostate Health Education Network Inc., in 2015, an estimated 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 27,540 men are dying from the disease.

Freddie Muse Jr. gives it to you straight.

“Prostate cancer does not need to be a death sentence,” he said.

As a survivor, Muse is a testament to that statement.

“I am alive today because of a routine medical examination that detected my prostate cancer in its early stages,” Muse said. “I had no symptoms but my Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test score was 14.”

Men with prostate cancer often have PSA levels higher than four.

A diagnosis of prostate cancer can cause stress, anxiety and confusion.

“I cringed, of course; there it was, I had cancer,” Muse said.

He was given treatment options.

“I chose radiation and underwent 42 treatments in 2007,” said Muse, who has been cancer-free for nearly 10 years.

“During the time I was diagnosed and endured the treatments, I was alone in Northern California with none of my friends or family around,” he said.

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The day Muse received a card from the American Cancer Society (ACS) offering support; he knew that he had a bigger purpose in life.

“I had a lot to learn about prostate cancer and was glad for the ACS support group,” Muse said. “For example, men with elevated PSA levels have noncancerous prostate enlargement, which is a normal part of aging.”

Muse discovered his true calling when he founded The Men’s Cancer Network to “save our men.” His mission is to increase wellness and awareness of men with cancer.

“I realized to help myself and others; there was a need for a resource,” said Muse, who recently hosted the fourth annual Prostate Health Educational Symposium at Bethel AME Church of Los Angeles in observance of National Men’s Health Awareness Month.

Nearly 60 men took charge of their health and attended the symposium founded by Muse and co-hosted by prostate cancer survivor Rev. Kelvin T. Calloway, the senior pastor at Bethel AME; Rev. Theodore Payne IV, senior pastor at Bryant Temple AME Church, and the Prostate Health Education Network Inc.

Testing was provided by Rene Savickas, vice president of Prostate Conditions Education Council.  The program agenda included information about treatment options, managing sexual health and stories from survivors and caregivers.

District 9 City Councilman Curren D. Price Jr. recognized the importance of advocates like the Men’s Cancer Network, Prostate Health Education Network, and the church community to break the common perception and better address the health disparities that are prominent in local communities.

“Annual symposiums like this one position us to create better opportunities for those suffering with this disease, and give them a better fighting chance at beating their condition,” Price said. “It is no secret that most men don’t like visiting the doctor, but it is imperative that we support one another in this effort, ensure that we are monitoring our health, and are getting tested and screened on a regular basis.”

Prostate-Cancer-Symptoms-by-Stages-in-Older-Men

Men are generally experts when it comes to stats about a sports team. Prostate cancer affects 16 million men worldwide. Don’t be a statistic. It’s time to know your personal stats when it comes to your PSA.

Medical professionals recommend getting the test which measures the blood level of a specific protein produced by the prostate gland because it is one of the earliest ways to detect prostate cancer.  The PSA (blood) test is not perfect and usually a rectal exam, a biopsy (a lab testing of a small amount of tissue from the prostate) will be ordered for conclusive results.

The American Cancer Society notes that some symptoms are not apparent during the early stages of prostate cancer. Experts recommend screening every year after the age of 50 or sooner based on family history and race.

Notably, African American men are 1.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease. However, if you experience burning or pain during urination, loss of bladder control, painful ejaculation, blood in urine or semen, bone pain, and swelling in legs or pelvic area, a visit to a physician for screening is highly advised.

For support and more information, contact Muse at The Men’s Cancer Network at www.themenscancernetwork.com or (213) 909-7159. Other resources available can be found at www.myprostatecancerroadmap.com; www.myprostatecancercoach.org; www.your-ProstateYourDecision.com; www.prostatehealthed.org; and www.RAPCancer.org.

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Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA, a public relations consultant, is the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR. Send “Health Matters” related questions to healthmatters@wavepublication.com and look for her column in The Wave.