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Diagnosed with prostate cancer

Harry Belafonte

Singer Harry Belafonte’s rising PSA levels led to his diagnosis of prostate cancer at age 69. After surgery, he is now free of the disease and feels that his survival is a gift.

“I have often asked myself how I can repay this gift and what I am meant to do. I decided that what I need to do is use my celebrity platform to encourage others to seek screening and seek treatment…”

Al Roker

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“I’d been feeling great, but my doctor discovered I had an elevated PSA level in my blood work,” recalls television personality Al Roker. Diagnosis: prostate cancer in 

“There are no symptoms with early-stage prostate cancer, so screening saves lives,” says Carol Brown, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “And African American men need to get screened and should get screened, usually starting at age 40.”

Roker’s cancer was aggressive, but still confined to the prostate and he had surgery to remove it. His PSA level is now virtually undetectable. 

A 2-minute video from NBC News.

Colin Powell

“When I started to reach the age when you worry about such things, I religiously went to my annual physical for screenings. I knew as an African American I had a higher likelihood of getting prostate cancer than my white brothers,” recalled the late Colin Powell. 

Erratic PSA numbers led Powell’s urologist to perform three biopsies, with the third testing positive in 2003 when Powell was 66. After discussing treatment options, Powell opted for surgery. He passed away in October 2021 from COVID-19 complications.

Prostate cancer survivors and their families

“I was just turning 45. The doctor says you have cancer. I was like, this can’t be true. It takes the wind out of your sails.”


“Just to hear the word cancer invade our home was devastating. I was scared to death. He said that he was going to go to an oncologist.  His reaction was almost like he was suffering from a cold!”


“To be confronted with the fact that my funeral is coming real soon.  It’s one of the hardest things in the world.”


“I got a phone call from my dad.  All he said to me was, I’ve got cancer. Someone who’s always been there for every part of your life may not…”


“How did I get this? I didn’t even know where my prostate was. for Pete’s sake. We’re men.  We think we’re superman.”


“My husband is the type who was allergic to doctors. It’s easier sometimes not to know and be in denial. Bob would be dead now if we had not asked for that test.”

La Shawn Ford

“Prostate cancer was on my radar not because I was concerned about having prostate cancer,” says Illinois state legislator La Shawn Ford.

“I knew that black men die 2-1 to the counterparts. And so I knew that this was an issue. But I never expected it to be an issue of mine. I’m 48, healthy, exercise and all the time eating right. So I had no concerns that I had problems.”

But after a PSA test, an MRI and a biopsy, Ford found out he had aggressive stage four prostate cancer.  Fortunately, the cancer had not spread, Ford had his prostate removed and has a good prognosis.

A 5-minute video from Northwestern Medicine.

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