HAMPTON, Va. – NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith joined other former NFL athletes who spoke out in support of men’s health on Saturday.
The discussion and panel were part of the first Prostate Cancer and Men’s Health Awareness Fair at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI).
“I’m 59 and I’ve been tested,” Smith told a packed room.
The fair was attended by a number of vendors to talk to men who have come out about healthy lifestyles. HUPTI also offered free early detection prostate screenings, drawing dozens just after doors opened at 9 a.m.
A panel of NFL athletes began at 10:00.
“I think lending our voices will help amplify the need for men and African Americans in particular to own their own health,” Smith told News3.
Organizer Tiffany Rogers said having professional athletes come in to share their stories was critical to the event’s unexpected popularity.
“They’re trying to tear down the walls that we don’t talk about, but we’re afraid to go to the doctor. We can’t do that. We have to go to the doctor, we have to get screened.” We have to stay there,” said Rodgers, director of marketing at HUPTI.
One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, according to the Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum, and black men are twice as likely to die from low-grade cases than any other race will be
The Forum recommends annual screenings beginning at age 40 for black men and others considered to be at high risk for prostate cancer.
Rodgers said he plans to make the Men’s Health Awareness Fair, held each September, an annual event.