LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Cancer can be a hard topic to bring up for discussion.
Which is why one man is using the month of September, the “National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month,” to get more men talking about their health below the belt.
“I think of my father and what he went through,” says Dr. Ronald Rainey, a professor of economics at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. “I also think of my daughter and wife and my daughter’s face when I first told her I had cancer – I’ll never forget that.”
Dr. Rainey is a two-time survivor of prostate cancer. He was first diagnosed with cancer at 38 years old. However, 45 is the age that most doctors recommend men to get screened.
“Some insurances and medical plans don’t want to cover it,” explains Dr. Rainey. “And if your doctor doesn’t want to give you the blood test after asking, I would say to seek a second opinion – cause cancer doesn’t discriminate.”
He says he had his prostate removed and thought he was cancer free, but it would take ten years for the cancer to return.
“It was 48 when my doctor told me I had cancer,” he says. “It spreads fast and gets harder to remove.”
Dr. Rainey is passionate about his cause which is why he is doing all he can to help men start talking about the sometimes uncomfortable topic.
He adds he understands their fears, but getting tested early is important.
“To think that somebody wouldn’t get screened or tested because they are afraid or because they may be embarrassed – that’s preventable,” explains Dr. Rainey. “Because one day it just may be too late.”
Dr. Rainey’s family is no stranger to cancer. His father died from cancer and his brothers have been diagnosed with the disease as well.
“When I talk to these men I think of my dad. He has been a big motivating factor,” Dr. Rainey says. “I can see why they might feel embarrassed but honestly it’s time we change that – for our health and life.”
For now, Dr. Rainey is taking it day by day. He now gets an annual test and shares his story to help others see and understand that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
“Getting that test is what saved me,” he says. “Prostate cancer can cause a person’s PSA levels to increase.”
He says he is doing all he can to help spread awareness. He even hosts free blood tests at his local church for men to get their PSA levels tested. The same test that helped him.
“It is one test. One blood test that can potentially save your life,” says Dr. Rainey. “With prostate cancer early detection is the key.”
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer for men in the U.S. and is known to be higher in minorities especially if you are African American or have a family history with the disease.