HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Catching it early can save your life but too many people are dying from colon cancer, especially in the African American community.
Hampton resident Charlie Hill said back in 2002 his doctor knew something was wrong while getting screened for colon cancer.
Hill realized he had prostate cancer and years later in 2011 was diagnosed with lymphoma.
“Simply being here with you and your viewers is an indication of how important early detection is,” said Hill. He said there was a good chance he could have died if his doctor, that he now calls an angel, hadn’t spotted irregularities in his tests.
He said that doctor along with the early detection saved his life.
He is part of the organization 100 Black Men of America, the Virginia Peninsula Chapter and sits on the National Health and Wellness Committee.
“Today, it's clear that black men have aggressive prostate cancers and also aggressive colon cancers when diagnosed,” said Hill.
President of the Virginia Peninsula Chapter of the 100 Black Men of America Alonzo Bell said they want to educate the community about colon cancer and the importance of early detection.
He said they are holding a virtual event Saturday from 10 a.m. – Noon. It’s called Colon Cancer and the Black Community: Know Your Risk In the Age of COVID-19. They have teamed up with Riverside Medical Group. The event is free and all are welcomed.
The death of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman to colon cancer at the age of 43 has shocked many people.
The tragedy is putting colon cancer in the headlines. Statistics from the federal government show that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by colon cancer and other cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers.
“African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) of any ethnic group in the United States. Although some of these disparities can be explained by differences in access to care, cancer screening, and other socioeconomic factors, disparities remain after adjustment for these factors,” according to the American Journal of Pathology.
“It has touched our organization," said Bell,"and touching on many of the lives of people in our community."
Both Hill and Bell said they have had colonoscopies, a procedure to detect cancer. “During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to view the inside of the entire colon,” according to the Mayo Clinic. They say most patients do not experience any pain during or after the procedure and sedation can be used. But many people are reluctant to get the test done.
Both Bell, Hill and medical experts say it is vital.
“I can understand that you may be reluctant to what's involved in having a colonoscopy, but the alternative is death or can be death,” said Bell.
They said everyone is welcome event that will have lifesaving information on Saturday.
Bell said you can log in using your tablet, phone or computer. They have several guest speakers including Dr. James Mixon, Family Medicine Primary Care Riverside Medical Group, Dr. Michael Ney – Riverside Medical Group, RADM Richardae Araojo Parm.D., MS Director, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Dr. Olumide Ajayeoba – Gastroenterology Riverside Medical Group.
“This is an informational sharing experience that we need to have more of and we need to have more participation,” said Hill.
Advanced online registration is required.