Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening experience. The disease can strike anyone, anywhere, at any age. It is no respecter of persons. It attacks rich and poor, young and old, the famous and the unknown, all over the world.
However, there are more and more cancer cures occurring. Intensive research is being carried on every day and new treatments and combination of treatments are being discovered and tested all the time. There is much reason for hope.
A cancer diagnosis is no longer a certain indicator of imminent death. With good medical care, an optimistic and determined attitude, and the love and support of family and friends, cancer can often be beaten. Following, there is a list of well-known personalities who have confronted and overcome the disease.
* Lance Armstrong is a world-renowned athlete and cyclist who has won the Tour de France seven times. In 1996, he was found to have prostate cancer, which had spread to his stomach, lungs and brain. He was treated with surgery and chemotherapy and today he is cancer-free. He is continuing with his cycling career. He has established the Lance Armstrong Foundation which funds cancer research and helps those fighting the disease.
* Colin Powell is a retired United States Army General and held the position of sixty-fifth Secretary of State (2001-2004) under President George W. Bush. In 2003, at the age of 66, he had his cancerous prostate gland removed. He is presently classed as a cancer survivor.
* Actress Kate Jackson, one of most famous of "Charlie's Angels", from the TV show of the same name, is a two-time breast cancer survivor. After the first diagnosis in 1987, she opted for a "lumpectomy" , removal only of the cancerous growth, while leaving the breast intact. When the cancer recurred in 1989, she had a partial mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She is presently cancer-free.
* British singer and song-writer Rod Stuart was found to have a malignant growth on the thyroid gland in his throat, during a routine check-up in 2001. The cancer was surgically removed. Rod related that he had to completely retrain his voice after the operation, but now feels that he is singing better than ever.
* Ronald Reagan, at age 74, during his term in office as President of the United States, was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had surgery to remove the tumor in 1985 and the operation was successful. He had skin cancers removed in 1987 and 1995. He died at age 93 in
)--"I am a survivor of prostate cancer," the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said.
realized that this disease was killing Black men at terrific rates, and that as men, we are difficult in terms of allowing ourselves to be tested. But, my dear brothers, let me encourage you. In fact, I’m going to spend the rest of my days encouraging men, in general, and Black men in particular, don’t wait," the Minister continued.
He first expressed this sentiment while suffering severe side effects from his treatment for the cancer, and his daughter, Maria Farrakhan Muhammad, took his feelings to heart.
She, along with one of her father’s doctors, Alfred Goldson, and attorneys Lewis Meyers and Berve Muhammad, created the blueprint for an institution dedicated primarily to increasing the awareness of the causes and alternative treatments of cancer in general, and prostate cancer in particular. They are seeking to obtain 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status for the foundation.
Its endowment will be housed at Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., where a clinic will later open to help provide treatment for prostate cancer to men who can’t afford to pay for it themselves.
While keeping his remarks concise, Minister Farrakhan shared a detailed chronology of his personal battle against prostate cancer and related illnesses. After a cancer screening at 42, his doctor remarked that the condition of his prostate was that of a teenager’s.
However, in the 16-year gap between his next testing for the disease, cancer had developed in his prostate and he was diagnosed after a digital rectal exam in 1991. Although his treatment was successful, he endured excruciating pain from a subsequent ulcer and hemorrhage that brought him to death’s door, he explained, calling prostate cancer a scourge that must be stopped.
"We are losing too many of our great ones," he said, adding that it is more than the loss of one man; it is a family’s loss, so fighting this cancer becomes a family issue.
He noted that Black men have the highest mortality rates from the disease in the world and advised them to begin taking annual prostate tests at the age of 35. To those who say they cannot afford the exam every year, Minister Farrakhan urged them to cut back on something fancy at least once a year to free up the necessary funds and keep their scheduled appointment.
"Don’t sleep like I did when I was 42," he warned. "That’s your date with destiny."
After reminding the audience that two million men would not have showed up for the Million Man March had not the women in their lives inspired and pushed them to be there, Minister Farrakhan asked women to help motivate the men in their families to get screened for prostate cancer. He also encouraged them to take care of their own health as it relates to the necessary exams for female reproductive cancers.
In his concluding comments, he thanked his family members for their loving concern and care, especially his daughter, Maria, for her vision and labor in establishing the foundation. He informed the press of his plans to garner support from entertainers, sports figures and business people in building the foundation and clinic at Howard University.
Minister. Farrakhan toured the mobile cancer pre-screening unit before the medical staff began conducting free tests for prostate cancer.
Along with the press, representatives present were Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hilliard and Chuck Bowen, executive assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley, who read a letter from the mayor expressing warm greetings honoring Min. Farrakhan’s birth—which was part of the weekend celebration launching the foundation—and appreciating his residence in the city.
Illinois State Senator Donnie Trotter (D) delivered a proclamation on behalf of Governor Rod Blagojevich that declared May 10 to be the city’s "Prostate Cancer Awareness Day." "We commend Minister Farrakhan in taking the lead in getting this great message to our country," the senator said.
The message is not only great, it is critical, according to the brief statistical report given by Betsy London, who directed the day-long pre-screening drive at the mosque immediately following the press conference. Representing the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, the largest advocacy organization dedicated to the awareness of the disease, she said one in six men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime and the chances of Black men developing the disease is 60 percent higher than their White counterparts. Black men also have doubled the mortality rate.
In 2003, the coalition estimates that 25,000 Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 6,000 will die. Every 18 minutes, an American man dies from this cancer, which is the single most diagnosed non-skin cancer among Black people. Before the use of a blood test that screens for prostate specific antigens (PSA), about three-fourths of all prostate cancer cases were found in the late stages making treatment more difficult. However, widespread use of pre-screening has reversed this trend and now 75 percent of all cases are found in the early stages, which should give men hope.
Because Min. Farrakhan’s brother Alvan was diagnosed with, and unfortunately died from prostate cancer, his chances of contracting the cancer was raised to one in three. But, Min. Farrakhan said by God’s Grace, he fought the disease and stands today cancer free and nearly completely recovered from his cancer-related illnesses.
He urged all men to face the screening and the results with the same determination.
"Once you know you have it, then the next thing is aggressively start your war, and since we’re warriors, we don’t give in to these things," Minister Farrakhan concluded. "We overcome."
Christina Applegate: In 2008, the prime-time star was diagnosed with a malignancy in the left breast. After testing positive for the so-called "breast-cancer gene," Applegate, whose own mother battled the disease, opted for a double mastectomy. Within weeks, she was able to declare herself "100 percent clear" of cancer. Today, she's newly married and expecting her first child. Other celebrity breast-cancer survivors include Sheryl Crow, Olivia Newton-John and Shaft icon Richard Roundtree (yes, men can get the disease, too).
Michael C. Hall: Figuring his red-carpet headwear would lead to questions, the Dexter star opened up about his Hodgkin's lymphoma battle just before last January's Golden Globes. Hall ended up winning the Globe, and, four months later, wife/costar Jennifer Carpenter said he'd won back his health, too, enthusing her husband was "fully recovered."
Ewan McGregor: After a scrape with skin cancer in 2008, the Jedi knight from the Star Wars prequels said he was "fine," and he proved himself so when he smartly answered a stupid question about whether he'd been scared: "It was great fun having skin cancer, it was great, I really enjoyed it." Senator John McCain and Elizabeth Taylor are among the long-term celebrity skin-cancer survivors.
Famous Prostate Cancer Survivors: Robert De Niro: Diagnosed in 2003, De Niro kept secretive about his treatment, but many believe he underwent a prostatectomy. Joe Torre: Famed manager of the New York Yankees battled prostate cancer in 1999. He reportedly said he suffered no symptoms of prostate cancer. He opted for a prostatectomy. Nelson Mandela: Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001. It is reported that he went through radiation therapy as treatment. Rudy Giuliani: Former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani was diagnosed in 2000. His diagnosis was prompted by high PSA levels in his blood. Arnold Palmer: Palmer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997. 8 weeks after surgery, he was on back on the green golfing. Harry Belafonte: Actor Harry Belafonte was diagnosed in 1996 and now is an activist for prostate cancer survivorship. Bob Dole Seantor Bob Dole was diagnosed in 1991 and was treated with surgery. Colin Powel Powell underwent surgery in 2003 for prostate cancer and made a full recovery, becoming a prostate cancer survivor. John Kerry John Kerry's prostate cancer was detected through a normal PSA test. It was significantly higher than the last PSA test, but still with the normal range. He was diagnosed in 2002 and has made a full recovery