Screening and testing are often thought of as an early prevention method for many diseases. For Black men, who are more likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive forms of prostate cancer at younger ages, the importance of screening is even more evident. Now, one dad is showing just how important it is.
In 2014, 56-year-old Gilly Morgan was undergoing what he thought was a routine check-up. However, the check-up detected increased levels of prostate-specific antigen in his blood indicating that he had prostate cancer.
The fear of prostate exams
Like many men, Morgan was initially hesitant to undergo the prostate exam, which many find invasive and uncomfortable. The test involves a doctor inserting a lubricated, gloved finger up the patient’s rectum to feel the size and texture of the prostate for any irregularities.
“When he said that, I went, ‘I’ve heard about this, I’ve heard about a finger up the backside! It’s a fear factor,” Morgan recalls. “But I said, ‘Doctor, go ahead’, because obviously something wasn’t right. “Those two fingers saved my life. I’m here to this day. Those two fingers saved my life. “I will always repeat that, because what I learned was that a lot of guys are embarrassed.”
The importance of regular check-ups
Morgan was initially told that he would have only 36 months to live if he left the prostate cancer untreated. Morgan was ultimately treated and survived, no doubt thanks to his proactiveness about his health. However, he realizes that many men aren’t as fortunate because they simply don’t go to the doctor. Because of this, many men die without knowing they have cancer or any other life-threatening condition.
Sadly, Morgan’s dad was one of those men. Morgan recalls him denying his prostate cancer diagnosis even after he read his medical records.
“He never told me or my brother. In the Black community, and not just in the Black community, but across the board, men in general don’t go to the doctors, and they definitely don’t talk about issues regarding the penis, if it’s not working or whatever,” Morgan shares. “We’re too macho for that, and that’s why a lot of men die. They’re too proud to go and get advice.”
The inspiration behind sharing his story
After his diagnosis, Morgan looked for Black men who had prostate cancer and would be willing to give him advice, but had a hard time