Grammy Award Winner and Cancer Champion Paul Anthony Shares Personal Health Journey
By Delisa Saunders, Ph.D., Contributor
An enthusiastic audience of parents, students, activists, healthcare professionals and concerned neighbors converged on the Ferris Wheel in downtown Flint on Saturday, March 30 for the State of Cancer, Lead and Health Summit.
Many local area residents who attended said they came because they were eager to learn more about the impact of lead and other carcinogens on their daily lives. They wanted healthy solutions to survive and thrive. They also came for inspiration and fellowship to continue efforts to renew their communities.
Dr. Leven “Chuck” Wilson, president of the Renew Group, said his source of inspiration for joining Flint in making a difference was a promise made to recording artist and former Flint resident Vann Johnson during her last days of battling cancer. He told the audience that much progress has been made.
“But in order to fully reclaim our communities and live healthier after the lead crisis, we need to keep staying informed, engaged and energized. We are the vehicles for change and in order to make a difference we have to play an active role until the end,” said Dr. Wilson.
Pastor Martez Warren, who is also a social worker, discussed the innovative ways he approaches well-being at the Church Without Walls, which includes incorporating yoga, meditation and nutrition for self-care.
“Everything starts with a feeling that triggers an event that results in action,” he explained. “At The Church Without Walls, we help to change the cycle and change our mindset through fellowship, faith, finance and fitness.”
Acknowledging that March is Women’s History Month, Grammy award-winning artist and cancer champion Paul Anthony began with an impromptu song as a celebration and tribute to women. He went on to discuss his courageous journey with cancer from the diagnosis, to hospital stays for treatment, to diet and fitness. He discussed how the power of hope, positive thinking and action impacted his life, family and other cancer survivors. He encouraged the audience to be extraordinary by doing more than what’s expected.
“We can impact people if we engage with others and touch lives,” he said.
The gripping facts about the health disparities among African Americans were discussed by Dr. B. Lee Green of the Moffitt Cancer Center. For example, African American men have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer. They are twice as likely to die from the disease as white men.
“One of the best ways to tackle the problem is through ongoing research, but we miss out of the benefits if we don’t participate in the research,” he said. “It means that treatments and medicines developed as a result of the research do not include us– in other words, we’re left out.”
Dr. Green encouraged the audience to limit exposure to lead and other carcinogens since it’s next to impossible to predict which one will trigger cancer. He added that more legislation is needed to support research and health disparities.
The event ended with a lively panel discussion, which included Nicole Lee from the Healthcare Administration at Hurley Medical Center, youth specialist and community activist Randi William and Danika Lloyd-Daton, NP Dorsey School of Nursing. The audience asked many questions, offered suggestions and shared their stories.
Action steps discussed included civic engagement, youth outreach, engaging other organizations, advocating for issue-driven legislation, participating in trial research and taking information, health screenings and social services to the community through mobile health screening buses, worksite health screenings/social services/information areas and making health/social services/information available at public schools.
“Today’s event is one of the ways that the Renew Group serves its purpose to provide timely and useful support for a holistic impact on individuals and communities,” said Dr. Wilson. “We believe in the power of information, education and service.”
Delisa Saunders is Communications Director for the Renew Group.