Prostate cancer advocates lobby Congress for research funding
WASHINGTON - When Robert Ginyard of Baltimore found out he had prostate cancer, he was devastated.
“I automatically thought of death. My whole thought process was sent into a whirlwind,” he said.
Ginyard, 48, owns Shusokumb a small business that sells designer bags and other items. He is married and has two daughters, ages 6 and 5, and the thought of leaving them behind was surreal.
Ginyard had a radical prostatectomy, in which his prostate and some surrounding tissue was removed.
Two years after being diagnosed, Ginyard is now a prostate cancer survivor. “I feel wonderful. I feel fantastic helping other men and making them aware of the issues and severities of the disease,” Ginyard said.
Ginyard joined 240 prostate cancer advocates from Zero, a non-profit headquartered in Washington that seeks better care for patients and more research into cures for the disease. The group gathered Thursday at the 2012 Summit to End Prostate Cancer on Capitol Hill. Advocates from 29 states lobbied elected officials to ask them not to cut funds for prostate cancer research. The funding supports prostate cancer research programs, and it may speed up the process by which the National Institutes of Health approves new drug treatments.
Zero provides education to those at risk and conducts free prostate cancer testing throughout the country.
With proper treatment, the disease is treatable. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. An estimated one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Zero has led the fight to increase government investment in research from $85.5 million in 1995 to more than $450 million in 2011.
Zero’s mission is not only to reduce prostate cancer or alleviate the pain from the disease but also to end it across the nation.
Montel Jennings, president of the Martin Luther King Civic Council, has partnered with Zero to serve as a gateway to communicate directly with elected officials and assist with spreading awareness and education across all 50 states.
The council, based in San Francisco, is an information clearinghouse that provides policy updates, input from decision-makers in communities and access to policy makers at the local, state and national level.
Jennings met with Victoria Bright, legislative correspondent for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Jennings and Bright discussed the importance of supporting funding for prostate cancer and initiatives dealing with research and awareness, especially within the African-American community.
African-American men have a 60 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer than Caucasian men.
Prostate cancer affects one in four African-American men, and because of that Jennings said the African-American community needs to be informed about what is available for treatment, what the warning signs are and what funding is available.
“Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power,” Jennings said. “When you have the power to make a decision, then that empowers you to make critical decisions about your health and well-being.”
The group hopes to know more in late March, when the president introduces his budget for the next fiscal year. However, David Buckner, Zero’s government relations and advocacy manager, said he believes the 240 advocates made a successful pitch in educating members of Congress about prostate cancer medical research, early detection and awareness.
Reach SHFWire reporter Kamrel Eppinger at email@example.com or 202-326-9866. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.