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Farrakhan launches Prostate Cancer Foundation
By Dora Muhammad
Associate Editor
Updated May 7, 2003 - 11:19:00 PM

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'The longer you delay in finding the truth and acting on it, the less chance you have of survival.' -Minister Louis Farrakhan
FinalCall.com) -- He survived a public bout of prostate cancer and endured critical complications after treatment that brought him 180 seconds away from death. He emerged from that experience with no trace of the disease in his body.

A sign at Mosque Maryam announces Prostate Cancer Awareness Day. Photo: Kenneth Muhammad
(Now, he is effecting a healing for others.

Marking a new milestone in a life that has been devoted to the uplift of humanity, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan prepares to launch a prostate cancer foundation during Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-11.

"It’s a wonderful statement about the beautiful compassionate quality of leadership in the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, that he would guide us into that which is healing to our people," commented Minister Jamil Muhammad, a national spokesman for Minister Farrakhan. "Here’s a man who has given of himself his entire life. And now, as the great occasion of the 70th anniversary of his birth is observed on May 11, he is still giving, still leading, still excelling at the very best of what God has given him."

Dubbing the upcoming launch weekend, "a party with a purpose," Min. Jamil said it’s a great opportunity to spend two days being uplifted, informed, entertained and inspired to do something for Black people.

The party commemorates the life and work of Minister Farrakhan; the purpose is to highlight the importance of early detection and effective treatment in the fight against the spread of this cancer.

The weekend event kicks off with a morning press conference Saturday, May 10, at Mosque Maryam scheduled by Minister Farrakhan to announce the formation of the Louis Farrakhan Prostate Cancer Foundation, and to discuss with the media the vulnerabilities of Black men to the disease, and treatments available.

Following this opening, dozens of health care providers will gather on the campus grounds of Muhammad University of Islam to offer an afternoon of free prostate cancer pre-screening blood tests. But it’s not just a day for men and their health concerns; it’s a day for families to enjoy together, with planned children’s activities, vendors, a talent showcase and a special performance by the legendary King of Calypso, "The Mighty Sparrow." The entertainment will carry over to the evening at the Arie Crown Theater with a tribute concert by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.

On his 70th birth anniversary on Sunday, May 11, which is also Mother’s Day, Min. Farrakhan will deliver an illuminating message at Mosque Maryam. The historic launch will culminate that night at the Chicago Hilton and Towers with a black-tie gala of fine dining, dignitaries and celebrity tributes to Minister Farrakhan.

Foundation officials hope to raise seed money to begin the initial stages of their work; and Howard University School of Medicine is set to house the foundation’s endowment for further research and treatment.

The organization’s executive director, Maria Farrakhan Muhammad, daughter of the internationally recognized minister and humanitarian, told The Final Call that the idea for the foundation formed out of the intensity of Minister Farrakhan’s struggle to battle and overcome prostate cancer.

"With this disease, most men don’t survive. He is a walking miracle, based on his age and the severity of the disease. We [the Farrakhan family] call his doctors, ‘our dream team.’ Thank God for those men and women who were gifted to bring him through and able to arrest the disease at this time," she said.

"We are working to ensure that all Black men are aware, so that we can stop the loss of our men from this dreaded disease. Early prevention will save their lives and this is just a wake-up call," she continued. "We, as women, must help our men get over the fear of going to the doctor to check up on themselves. Our men are facing a death sentence and I don’t think they realize the severity of what they are facing."

According to the American Cancer Society, one in every six men screened will test positive for prostate cancer, and 30,000 men die every year from the disease. National statistics also indicate that once every 90 minutes, a Black man dies as a result of prostate cancer or its complications.

While most men are advised to start annual pre-screening when they turn 50, many doctors urge Black men to begin testing at age 40. When this cancer appears in Black men, cases are more aggressive and as a result, Black men are almost twice as likely to die from the cancer than any other group of men. Researchers have linked prostate cancer rates to poor diet, stress, high blood pressure, and possible genetic and hormonal factors.

The Louis Farrakhan Prostate Cancer Foundation will strive to combine strategic planning and financial resources of corporations, medical teaching institutions and pharmaceutical companies with the generosity of funders to support tangible long-term results in cancer research and development. In Minister Jamil’s view, the foundation’s effort will help more Black men turn the corner away from the devastating road paved by prostate cancer.

"The Minister came through prostate cancer by God’s Help, but many of our brothers don’t make it through because they don’t have the kind of support or the kind of information that can save their lives," he said. "We intend at the Foundation to address that disparity."

Min. Farrakhan was initially diagnosed with cancer at the age of 58 during a check-up in June 1991. His last prostate exam had been 16 years earlier. A digital exam and later a biopsy of his prostate showed the presence of a non-aggressive type of cancer. His doctor gave him three options: do nothing, receive radiation, or undergo a radical prostatectomy.

"Naturally, I was shocked and there was a time of not quite denial, but I did not like the options that I was given," Min. Farrakhan shared with The Final Call. "So, I decided I would fast and pray. No matter how I fasted and prayed, the PSA (prostate specific antigen), which identified the fact that I had cancer, was very high, over 130."

From 1991-1994, Min. Farrakhan continued to get MRIs, while battling the cancer now with diet, exercise and prayer. Yet, his PSA remained high, although the cancer was the size of a navy bean.

"The doctor in Mexico said you have an enemy in your house. It is just a thief right now, but if allowed to stay, it will become a murderer. You have to do something right away. I decided on seed implantation," Min. Farrakhan explained.

After several months of radiation seed implantation, no trace of cancer could be found in the Minister’s body. However, an ulcer eventually developed, which led to a massive hemorrhaging that threatened his life in March 1999. A year later, in October, he went into Howard University Hospital for a major surgery, and later withstood a further minor surgery. A recent blood infection, another complication from his surgeries, left him temporarily paralyzed.

Nevertheless, today, Minister Farrakhan stands free of cancer and nearly completely healed of the ulcer complications. He has said that his personal experience gives him a better understanding of how to fight the disease, stressing the importance of early intervention and medical treatment, educational materials, and pre-screening. Min. Farrakhan shared his convictions;

"The longer you delay in finding the truth and acting on it, the less chance you have of survival."

He believes that the high death rate particularly among Black men is the greatest persuasion for them to get screened.

Min. Farrakhan concluded, "If that is not motivation to save your life, then nothing can motivate you. I want to use my experience to encourage Black men everywhere to take the examination and to have it done as close to 40 as possible and after that, each and every year, so that if you find that you have it, you can take the appropriate treatment to win this battle against prostate cancer."


 


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