Checkup or check out: Black men’s health epidemic

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Photo credit: Munson Steed

Checkup or check out.

Many African American men are negligent when it comes to their health.

Checkup or check out.

Going to the doctor twice a year will help detect prostate cancer or other manageable diseases. We have to lose the shame about undergoing a rectal exam, and encourage the conversation around the importance of it for preventive care. When’s the last time you saw a post about a brother handling his health business on social media? Exactly.

The importance of having having regular health checkups can’t be emphasized enough for African American men. Those of us who have health insurance should use it to provide early detection and preventive care. Testing removes fear. It gives us the information we need to live a long, vibrant life. Men should have a PSA or prostate-specific antigen test, beginning at age 40 or 45, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Wives and girlfriends have a stake in this too. Insist that your mate get regular physical checkups. Be your mate’s health partner and go with him to the the doctor if that’s what it takes.

The African American community can’t succeed if our men aren’t healthy. African American men suffer needlessly from undiagnosed high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, prostate cancer, etc., all of which are treatable, and in some cases curable or reversible, if caught early.

I missed my annual checkup in January. So I decided March was a good time to start taking better care of myself. It was time to get a checkup, and check out of my denial. Early detection can be the key to extending your life 20 of 30 years. Checking out is not sexy. The idea of checking out of life at a young age is appalling. We all must endeavor to have discussions with our brothers, cousins and friends. African American businessmen must be sure to get that checkup so that we don’t check out on the many people who depend on us.

So for all of you who have not undergone a checkup, I’m sharing this image of myself with the physician that I selected that day because I had been in denial. It was the first time that I didn’t have a brother as a physician, but at that moment, I just wanted to save my life and my livelihood for myself, my company, my family and my friends.

Get that checkup and check in emotionally, physically and mentally for our community and for our future. Peace.

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