Calling all men: Hampton Roads group promoting prostate health

Charlie Hill has turned his prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery in 2002 into an ongoing community wide campaign to raise awareness about a disease that affects more than 240,000 men in the U.S. annually. Of those, about 28,000 men die each year.

Through the Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum, which he helped form in 2007, Hill, the co-recipient of the 2012 Daily Press Citizen of the Year Award, has worked tirelessly to promote awareness of the disease, particularly among African-American men. Their mortality rate is about double that of white men, according to the most recent government statistics available.

This year the Forum is hosting events to coincide with men's health week and partnering with the national organization, The Prostate Health Education Network, to offer educational events pegged to Father's Day.

On Saturday, June 15, a "Prostate Educational Symposium" at Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church in Newport News will feature local urologists and oncologists who will provide information on the importance of early detection, different treatment modalities and guidelines, advanced treatment options, an overview of clinical trials, and the importance of faith in healing. The event will be moderated by Terrance Afer-Anderson, public relations director for the Forum.

Rallies and church services at St. Mary's Basilica in Norfolk on Saturday, June 15 and Father's Day, June 16, are dedicated to those who have succumbed to the disease and those living with the disease and their caregivers. The events are also intended to increase awareness of the importance of screening and early detection of prostate cancer, for which there are a variety of treatments.

Nationally, in its fifth annual effort, the Education Network hopes to reach one million people with information. Last year, more than 200,000 people attended church services where survivors were honored. Churches can register to participate at The Education Network provides educational materials and information at no charge.

To make sure that men get the word, the Forum has enlisted the help of members of the Newport News Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority; the women are charged with having their fathers, husbands, sons and loved ones attend events over the weekend.

This weekend, June 8-9, the group will recognize men's health week by distributing information throughout the community regarding heart health. On Sunday, fact sheets will be available at area churches, and they will invite everyone to wear blue for prostate health on Father's Day, June 16.

Awareness events

• "Prostate Educational Symposium," from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, June 15, Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church, 830 25th St., Newport News; 757-244-3893.

• Church services at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 15; and 9 a.m. and noon, Sunday June 16, "Father's Day Rally Against Prostate (RAP) Cancer," Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, 232 Chapel St., Norfolk; 757-622-4487.

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