MILWAUKEE — Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men, according to the American Urological Association.
However, some men are at higher risk. African American men have a 1 in 5 chance of developing the disease.
Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin are conducting a study related to the disease, called Men Moving Forward.
It’s a 16-week lifestyle program for African American men who have survived prostate cancer. The program includes exercise and nutrition classes, along with support.
Alvin Flowers completed the program but still attends the exercise classes from time to time.
“It’s a great program as opposed to me being in desperation and depressed, not having any tools to help save my life or prolong my life,” said Flowers.
The program helped him after his unexpected cancer diagnosis.
“I survived my life, all kinds of different dangers,” said Flowers. “Combat in Vietnam. Now, to think I would face my demise with a disease, I had no way on how to combat it or fight against it.”
Flowers said he encourages others in similar situations to find support. He also recommends people check in with their doctors because early detection saves lives.
“It’s not something you want to enjoy finding out, but it’s better to know and be able to address it than it creeps up on you and you’re into a position where the outcome isn’t favorable,” said Flowers.
Flowers is sharing his perspective as a prostate cancer survivor in the Understanding Prostate Cancer Disparities initiative.
For the past year, a group of community members, community-based organizations, health care providers and researchers have discussed prostate cancer and the impact on African American men.
A leader of the initiative is Dr. Melinda Stolley, a Medical College of Wisconsin professor. Stolley said disparities are a tough problem and by collaborating, they’re hoping to come up with a solution.
“It starts with things like structure racism and social inequities, which gets all the way down under the skin to cause biological disruptions which can lead to cancer,” said Stolley. “We knew if we were going to develop effective solutions, we needed to bring people to co-learn from each other, from biology to policy.”
Marques Hogans is a public health professional. His role in the group is to evaluate collaborative conversations.
“What we’re learning is that there are a million different perspectives,” said Hogans. “Once you know those perspectives and you can collaboratively talk about them and ask questions about them and challenge them, you can come up with a product that is comprehensive and collaborative.”
The next step for the initiative is to come up with a research plan and a social action agenda before implanting solutions.