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Rev. John Cager
The Southern California Conference A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance has unanimously agreed to promote prostate health awareness on Father's Day, Sunday, June 19, by joining the nationwide rally to lift up the problems, challenges and triumphs related to prostate cancer and the African American community.
"We are pleased to lead the 54 A.M.E. churches in Southern California in heightening knowledge about the devastation of this disease and what the African American community can do to decrease its impact on our men and families," said Rev. John Cager, president of the Alliance and pastor of Second A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles.
"This disease is 100% curable with early detection. It is a shame that anyone dies from prostate cancer with treatment options now available with early detection," noted Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church and a recent prostate cancer survivor.
Rev. Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Jr., pastor of Bryant Temple A.M.E. Church and also a recent prostate cancer survivor, added, "On Father's Day, we want to call attention to the need for all African American men, age 40 and over, to know definitively the health status of their prostate by seeing a physician and getting screened for the disease.
"It is practically a sin, to live in America in the 21st Century, and not know what your PSA level is and also not have a baseline examination by your physician," he said.
Rev. Cager said the Father's Day campaign requests three actions by every congregation. "First, ask men in your church do they know what their PSA (prostate specific antigen) number is? Second, link hands across the sanctuary and pray for survivors of the disease and those families who have lost loved ones to the disease. Finally, distribute literature to everyone to increase awareness of prostate cancer and prostate health."
According to Thomas Farrington, the founder of the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) and an 11-year cancer survivor, there is a greater disparity between the survivability of prostate cancer and African American men compared to all other cancers in every other ethnic groups. Access to timely diagnosis and education about appropriate treatments appear to be major reasons for the difference.
Citing his agreement, Dr. Oden said, "We've got to significantly increase our understanding of prostate cancer and debunk the myths that exist. Too many of our men are waiting for symptoms to appear and tragically, at that point, it is too late to be cured, you can only be treated. Early detection leads to being cured."
"If the Black Church doesn't take the lead in bringing our men and their families out of the darkness of ignorance and superstition related to prostate health, who will? Our men are dying prematurely, our families are losing fathers and brothers to this disease and it doesn't have to be," concluded Dr. Calloway who added that the men of Bethel A.M.E. will focus on prostate health during their upcoming weekend retreat.
For information on the event, call Dr. Oden at (323) 754-8074.