4Men Only Straight Talk Features Black Doctors
By Dianne Anderson
Black men are being called to man up for an upcoming life-saving prostate health awareness event where they can freely ask – or anonymously write down – what’s stopping them from getting tested.
This time around, no women are allowed.
Rev. Gary McKinney said that before COVID-19, they averaged about 50 to 60 in attendance. He said keynote speaker is Dr. Melvin Seard, a UCI urologist, as well as other Black health professionals at the event.
Since COVID-19, they are attracting new men to the church, and he is trying to get the word out to create an environment for them to connect with someone who looks like them.
He said it helps the men to be more proactive.
“The event here is to get men to change their lifestyle to include the testing and going to the doctor as part of men taking care of themselves,” said Rev. McKinney, Men’s Ministry Coordinator/President.
“We have so many older men, trying to get them to change, sometimes is a challenge,” he said.
In the past, the event has brought in many in the community for testing, but this time they want to get the men back into the fold to find out about what they’ve been missing during the pandemic. The event covers heart disease, and prostate cancer with straight talk from cancer survivors and doctors.
Charles Hutchinson, a church member and prostate cancer survivor, has participated in the church health events for several years.
He said that men are naturally squeamish on the topic, and especially reluctant to talk about it in front of the ladies.
“We’ve had men very engaged and involved asking questions, we’ve established a psychologically safe environment where men feel comfortable asking questions about the challenges they face,” he said.
On Saturday, October 1, the 4Men Only health awareness event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 at Fellowship Hall, Second Baptist Church located at 4300 West Minster Avenue in Santa Ana.
In the past, women have attended to support their husbands or relatives, but this event is more confidential with anonymous input, and to get answers with counseling and coaching.
“We’re going to take natural precautions to make it as comfortable as possible,” Hutchinson said. “We’ll hand out cards to the men if they don’t want to raise their hands, they can write their questions on cards, and handed to speakers.”
One of their members had been ill and attended an event, where he learned he had prostate cancer, and the doctor was able to extend his life.
The health event also wants to establish different avenues for the men to connect with their doctors, learn what to expect, and receive information and follow-up resources.
“We lost the momentum that we had prior to COVID. We’re re-establishing that, that’s why we wanted to primarily focus on the doctor speaking, and that’s why we are thinking about semi-annual,” he said.
Hutchinson also goes back to his urologist every six months to continue testing to make sure there is no potential growth, and said that the experience motivated him to help others.
“That’s how I got part of the men’s health at the church,” he said. “I always tell men to go get their prostate checked. We’re very supportive to get men tested, get their PSA’s, and their physicals.”
None among them are eager to get the DRE, Digital Rectal Exam, known as the dreaded finger test, along with the PSA Blood test, but it represents survival.
Dr. Melvin Seard, a urologist with UCI, said the PSA is very accurate.
Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to die of prostate cancer, but Dr. Seard said that if they get similar health treatment as white men, they will have similar health outcomes as white men.
The disparity goes away with early diagnosis and quality treatment.
Dr. Seard with UC Irvine Medical Center, spends one day a week with other UCI staff at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System. In health studies, especially in the VA where Black men have access to quality care, he said Black men are thriving.
He said early detection, early diagnosis and comparable treatment end up with similar outcomes to the majority population.
“Despite the epidemiology that says we have a high incident and higher death rate, even with that being caught on time and treated appropriately, the outcome is no different,” he said.
He feels that working in the Long Beach community presents an opportunity to share life-saving information with Black men.
But for the most part, testing everywhere was very sporadic during the pandemic, and the data is not yet available on how hard the community was hit for lack of getting screened.
Another aspect is that Black men generally avoid the test.
“The historical violation of Black men, all those things are inherent and an understandable deterrent,” he said. “But most men will say, ‘I will give in to a blood test.’”
Both tests are recommended, but he said the PSA is very reliable.
“Neither is foolproof, you can have someone false positive or false negative with either, but in terms of bang for the buck. PSA is the preferred test,” he said.
For more information on upcoming events, email email@example.com