As Black men, we might find it hard to talk about worrying or painful experiences for fear of judgment or the concern that others might think less of us. But the truth is, we’re not alone. Talking about our feelings doesn’t make us weak. It shows us how we can support one another to the fullest.

There’s no shame in seeking a doctor’s help.

There’s no shame in protecting our health.

More than one million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer (PC) every year. PC is simply too common to stay silent. Believe it or not, speaking up about our prostate health makes a difference. Your voice matters more than you might think.

Image of Shannon Sharpe smilingImage of Shannon Sharpe smiling
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"You can come up with a million excuses if you don't want to do something. If you want to do something, there's nothing that will keep you from doing what you want to do. I see my brother, I see my sister, I see my mom, I see my kids, that's all the reason I need right there to make sure that my health is in great shape."

Shannon Sharpe

Pro Football Hall of Famer, Host of Club Shay Shay,
Talk That Talk™ Ambassador, Prostate Cancer Survivor

Barriers to Our Health Care

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The Prostate Exam

For some men, the idea of a digital rectal exam(DRE) is an assault on their masculinity. Other Black men feel uncomfortable being touched in such a sensitive area. Neither is right nor wrong. Fortunately, there is a simple step we can take. After a conversation with our doctor, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test might be the first step before our doctor decides if more testing — like a DRE — is necessary.

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Sexual Health

It’s possible that we avoid prostate cancer screenings because we believe prostate cancer can negatively impact our sexual performance. Despite the widespread concern over possible sexual side effects, that’s not the full story. The facts are:

  • Effective treatment options are available to help you recover your sexual ability.
  • Having an open conversation about your sexual concerns with your partner(s) and your doctor will help you make an informed decision.
Concerns about prostate cancer and sexual health
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Cost of Our Care

The general cost of health care can be a challenge. Testing and appointments might be expensive, whether we have health insurance or not. Fortunately, free or low-cost options exist for prostate care at:

  • Your local hospital: Some hospitals offer free or low-cost cancer care programs. Hospital websites usually have a list of qualifying factors.
  • Community health clinics: These clinics offer a range of services, including prostate screenings and follow-up care, all depending on your financial situation.
  • A clinical trial: These studies may provide free care while helping researchers understand prostate cancer treatments. Many Black people don’t participate in clinical trials because we’re not aware they exist. Talk with your doctor about whether a trial may be right for you.
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Trusting Your Doctor

Trusting someone you don’t feel like you can relate to is challenging, especially when it comes to your health. It’s even more difficult when our doctors don’t always look like us, might not understand our culture, or can't recognize where we are coming from. Whenever you don’t feel heard or seen, you can:

  • Get a second opinion: Just because one doctor didn’t understand you doesn’t mean the next doctor won’t. Ask your friends and family for recommendations of doctors they like to visit.
  • Speak to other members of your care team: Not only your doctor, but your physician assistant, nurses, and pharmacists are equally concerned with your well-being. Reach out to them with any additional questions or concerns.
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Fear of the Unknown

The word “cancer” triggers many mixed emotions and thoughts: anxiety, fear, a lack of power, and that’s just the beginning. Remember, knowledge is power. This is especially true when it comes to our prostate health.

The more we learn about our bodies, the less scary these issues can seem. Through routine health care and education, we can learn about prostate health issues in advance and feel prepared to talk to our doctor about them.We have the power to be proactive.

The Family May Not Talk About It, But We Need To

It’s understandable: you don’t want to burden your family with bad news. But by staying silent about our prostate health, we neglect the other people who can be impacted by our genes. If we don’t know if certain cancers run in families, we might not get the personalized care and attention we need.

We owe it as much to our family as we do to ourselves. When we talk about our prostate health, we not only make better decisions about our personal health, but we also allow our children and grandchildren to live healthier lives.

Unless we talk about PC, we won’t know if others close to us are experiencing the same thing.

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"I have seen the hesitancy to talk about diagnosis, treatment, and testing within my own family, so I believe the more that I speak out it will help break down those barriers within the Black community."

Mical R.,

Prostate Cancer Patient and Advocate

Our Story Is Our Strength — Lean on Community

Sometimes, we don’t want our friends to know private details about our lives. Sometimes, talking about prostate-related issues brings up feelings of shame and being powerless.

Turning to others for support is not weak.

In fact, searching for strength in numbers is one of the smartest and bravest things you can do. Sharing our truth is the only way to end the silence around prostate cancer. And sharing our truth gives us insight into the care we deserve.

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"We know that Black men are much more likely to die of prostate cancer, and there are not enough people who look like me talking about that risk."

Mical R.,

Prostate Cancer Patient and Advocate