By Frederick H. Lowe
Father’s Day is a happy day when African-American churches celebrate black fathers.
It is also a day when a growing number of churches acknowledge African-American men who are prostate cancer survivors, which is another reason to celebrate.
African-American men suffer from high rates of prostate cancer. Among black men, it is the leading cause of cancer cases and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, second only to lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
The disease develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers.
The Prostate Heath Education Network, which is based in Quincy, Mass., has formed an alliance with 400 black churches nationwide, said Thomas A. Farrington, president and founder of PHEN and a 15-year prostate cancer survivor.
During services, the churches host a Father’s Day Rally against Prostate Cancer, Farrington told NorthStar News.Today/BlackmanStreet.Today.
“Prostate cancer survivors and women who are wives and sisters of prostate cancer victims walk to the front of the church. They hold hands and bow their heads in prayer,” Farrington said. “For many of the men, this is first time they have acknowledged suffering from prostate cancer. They are breaking the silence.”
As part of the ceremony, men either wear blue ties or blue ribbons on their lapels. Blue has become the chosen color in the fight against prostate cancer.
“On this Father’s Day I want to extend a sincere thank you to all the churches that have partnered with PHEN for our 8th Annual Father’s Day Rally and 4th Annual Educational Symposium series,” Farrington wrote in a “Happy Father’s Day” message. “Together we are providing prostate health education and awareness to thousands within our communities all across the country.”
Prostate cancer symptoms, include pain while urinating, difficulty starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine, dribbling of urine, excessive urination at night, frequent urination, urge to urinate and leaking, urinary retention, or weak urinary stream. Erectile dysfunction is also a common symptom.
Depending on a man’s family history of disease, he should consult with his physician about having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer or a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis, or an enlarged prostate.
Men should also have, if needed, a digital rectal exam. To help prevent prostate cancer, men should exercise, including walking.