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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Battling Prostate Cancer and the Fight for More Awareness 

Lamont Mitchell, chair of the Anacostia Coordinating Council and founder of the Imani Cafe and catering company in Anacostia, recently found himself in a fight against prostate cancer. Diagnosed in April 2023 with a highly aggressive prostate cancer by a local DC urology group, Lamont’s journey has been a testament to the importance of seeking second opinions and the need for increased awareness and early detection in the African American community.

His diagnosis came after a routine Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test revealed a concerning level of 27 (normal level is less 4), leading to further investigation including an MRI, biopsy, and a Gleason score of 9, classified as stage T3b prostate cancer.

The initial recommendation for immediate surgery to remove his prostate prompted Lamont to seek a second opinion at the world-renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where his results were reevaluated and downgraded to Gleason 7. Following a PET PMSA and bone density scan to assess the extent of the cancer. his treatment plan at Memorial Sloan Kettering included six months of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), Brachytherapy (one session at high-dose rate), and Proton Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) consisting of five sessions over 10 days.

“It’s vitally important that you seek out centers of excellence when dealing with cancer,” Mitchell advises. ”The Washington metro area has many to choose from. I chose Memorial Soan Kettering because of a trial study evaluating a shorter course of ADT and SBRT with a Breachytherapy boost.  There is a critical need for more Black men to participate in medical research.”

Throughout the treatment, Lamont has shown remarkable resilience and determination. In response to his personal experience. He has taken a proactive approach to raise awareness about the importance of regular health screenings, particularly for African American men. He has founded an organization called “Know Your Numbers,” dedicated to encouraging African American men to get tested for major illnesses, including PSA levels, A1C (average blood sugar), blood pressure readings, and other vital health indicators. Through this initiative, Lamont aims to empower men in his community to take charge of their health and seek early detection and treatment when necessary.

“Black men in our community often wait too long to seek medical attention, particularly as it relates to reproductive health and the dreaded Digital Rectal Exam (DRE),” Mitchell says. “Many men don’t know that with modern technology the DRE isn’t necessary in most cases.”

Lamont is committed to collaborating with DC Health officials and leaders of nonprofit organizations, such as the Anacostia Coordinating Council and Martha’s Table, to address the health crisis facing African American men, particularly those living East of the River. His vision includes implementing community-based programs, organizing educational workshops, and advocating for increased access to healthcare services and resources for underserved populations. Lamont’s journey with prostate cancer has not only highlighted the importance of seeking second opinions and comprehensive evaluations but has also underscored the urgent need for increased awareness and proactive health measures within the African American community. His dedication to empowering men to prioritize their health and seek early detection serves as an inspiration to all, and his advocacy efforts are poised to make a meaningful impact in the fight against prostate cancer and other health disparities affecting the community.

As Lamont continues his own battle with prostate cancer, his unwavering commitment to raising awareness and driving positive change stand as a beacon of hope. Through “Know Your Numbers” and his collaborative efforts with local and national entities, Lamont is poised to make a lasting difference in the lives of many, leaving a powerful legacy of resilience, advocacy, and empowerment.

“Knowing your key health indicators is a start, but maintaining a healthy diet, controlling your weight and regularly exercising are essential for a long and healthy life,“ Lamont advises.

I will help Lamont keep the community informed of his personal medical journey and efforts to raise our community’s health consciousness.  Please join me in keeping my friend and his efforts in prayer.

Lamont Mitchell can be contacted at knowyournumbersdc@gmail.com. The website  “knowyournumbersdc.org” is under construction with a launch date of mid-March 2024./lauch date mid-march

Long-time Ward 8 community activist Philip Pannell can be contacted at philippannell@comcast.net.

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