By: Kimberly South, Palmetto Health

Willie March wants to beat the odds. After losing his oldest sister to cancer and his dad to diabetes in 2009, March is making a conscious effort to take charge of his health.

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“When you think you are healthy, life can take you in a different direction,” said March. “I heard an advertisement on a local radio station in Columbia about getting screened. I knew I had to get it done.” March heard the ad and realized he fit many of the risk factors such as age, race and family history. He made an appointment for a free prostate cancer screening through Palmetto Health. His PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test results came back abnormal. Further follow up with his physician revealed he had prostate cancer. March was shocked.

“Did I catch it in time? Will I make it through this? I need help,” said March. Like other men in his situation, he began to think about all the possibilities of what direction his life could take. He’s currently going through treatment options and hopes to be cancer-free soon.

Each year, Palmetto Health gives back to the community a 10 percent tithe, which provides opportunities such as free prostate cancer and diabetes screenings in South Carolina. Valencia Bostic is the director for Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative at Palmetto Health and leads a team of people who work with the community on screenings and detection.

“We know that so many people in our communities may not know the dangers or risks associated with chronic disease such as cancer or diabetes,” said Bostic. “They also may not be aware of the services and resources they have just around the corner. Our team at Palmetto Health is here to help with education, screening and case management.”

Risk factors for prostate cancer include the following:

  • Age (African-American men age 40-69; all other men age 50-69)
  • Family history
  • High-fat diet

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weak or interrupted urine flow
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Urinating often, especially at night
  • Blood in the urine

Health screenings are held in Columbia every Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., at Palmetto Health Baptist, 1501 Sumter St. (basement level), in the Office of Community Health. They also are held the fourth Thursday of every month, 5:30-7 p.m., at the Palmetto Health Men’s Center, 1801 Sunset Dr., second floor. Additional screenings are organized in various churches, worksites, community events and civic organizations. Call 803-296-CARE (2273) for more information or visit PalmettoHealth.org/CommunityHealth.

“With early detection of prostate cancer, you can beat the odds,” said March. “Don’t forget that God will never put more on you than you can bear. Take five minutes out of your daily schedule and get tested.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 Men’s Health Breakfast, Saturday, June 11

Take Charge of Your Health

Palmetto Health will hold a Men’s Health Day event on Saturday, on June 11, 9-11 a.m., in the Palmetto Health Baptist Auditorium, 1501 Sumter St. All men are invited to a free breakfast, health screenings and morning of health discussions around the theme of “Take Charge of Your Health.” Screenings will be held along with breakfast and speakers from 9-11 a.m. Health professionals will discuss men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, stroke and diabetes, as well as take questions from the audience.

Men’s health screening dates include:

Tuesday, June 7, 7-10 a.m.

Thursday, June 9, 7-10 a.m.

Saturday, June 11, 7-10 a.m.

Screenings offered include cholesterol, diabetes and prostate cancer and will be held at Palmetto Health. A 12-hour fast and registration are required.

For more information or to register, call 803-296-CARE (2273).