50 Hoops, started in 1998…. it’s a prostate cancer basketball tournament and health fair. We start out with a cancer breakfast in the morning, then the basketball tournament after that. We have prostate cancer screenings. We’ve had a lot of men come back and say, “Thank you for putting on the tournament.” A lot of these men come every year just to get screened, because we do the free screening, of course. We have men and women from the Senior Olympics participating, too.
We have doctors speaking during halftime, the quarters and at the breakfast. It’s all about educating the men, and they really do appreciate what we’re doing. We’ve been in 20 or 30 cities around the U.S. in the past 18 years.
Myself, I am a 20 year prostate cancer survivor, and I’m here today for one reason. That is because my wife and I were sitting around one day and watching TV, and she said, “You need to go down and get tested.” I had one PSA test, one rectal exam. Boom, there it was. I found out I had prostate cancer. Had no idea, no clue, but fortunately … had I waited just a little bit longer, I wouldn’t be here today.
Had my surgery, been doing great ever since. My doctor said with my background in professional basketball, my wife’s background in the corporate world, he said, “You guys need to do something locally for African American men and prostate cancer.”
That’s when we formed 50 Hoops. Been doing it ever since, and I’ve been a wonderful survivor. Haven’t had any problems at all since my surgery, and this is why I’m so hyped up and geared to telling men, educating men about what they need to do. They need to get the early screening. Early detection can save your life. I’m a living witness that it does work, so men, get off that macho stuff. Get tested at least once a year and live a good life, and they appreciate that.
I talked to one guy, who was the CEO of a company, 55 years old, never had a prostate cancer screening. Here we come, into the city. I grab this guy by the arm and say, “Look, you need to get tested.”
I had to literally drag him to the table. He finally got it done. He still calls me today and says, “Ed, I thank you for doing what you did. You saved my life.”
I tell a man straight out. I say, “Either you want to be macho or you want to be dead.” I mean, it sounds difficult, it sounds tough, but I let them know. “If you’re worried about getting tested and having prostate cancer and dying,” I say, “Well, if you don’t get tested in the early stages, you might not even be here to worry about it in six months. The choice is yours. You go down and get tested, which may take you a half an hour, 20 minutes, once a year, or you be macho and say, `Hey, I’m not going to do this,’ and you may not be around to worry about it, so the choice is yours.”.
A lot of guys say, “I don’t want to lose my sex thing,” “But if you’re not here, it’s not going to make any difference. If you’re not here, you can’t have sex anyway, so the choice is yours.” You’ve got to be frank with these guys, and they appreciate that. You can’t sugar coat it.
Regarding clinical trials and African Americans:
Unfortunately, a lot of the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to deal with African Americans.
Like I tell folks, they’re not participating the way they should for one reason and one reason only. That is because they don’t want to. That’s the only reason. If they really wanted to get involved … because we talked to companies before and they said, “We did all this for Indians, we did all this for Caucasians.” African Americans, they really don’t want to. We’ve talked to them in the past, and they have the same reason. They say, “Okay, we’ll get back with you and do this,” but they don’t respond. They don’t do anything.
They just don’t want to do it because it’s dealing with African Americans. That’s the bottom line. They’re not afraid of what they’re going to find out, they just don’t want to do it. They don’t want the numbers to go up. They want to keep the numbers down. They just want maybe 2 or 3 percent of African Americans in the clinical trial, and that’s all they want.
They have all these meetings. We’ve mentioned the meetings. They talk all this stuff. They say, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to do that.” They get paid for all these meetings where they say, “We’re going to do something,” and then they put an ad here and there but they really don’t pursue it, because they don’t want to.
I’ve told them to their faces. They don’t want to do it. “No matter what you say, you say you’re going to come back and do this and that, but you don’t do it because you don’t want to.” They have the resources, they have the money, they just don’t want to do it. I mean, let’s face it.
It’s racism. That’s exactly what it is. I mean, you’ve got to call it straight out. That’s all it is. They pick and choose who they want to deal with, hey, and that’s the bottom line. You can’t make them come around if they don’t want to do it. One day they may wake up and say, “Hey, let’s do more and more and more,” but right now, they only do a limited amount because that’s all they want to do. You can’t say they don’t have the resources to do it, because they’ve got all the resources in the world, you know that. The big pharmaceutical companies, they’ve got all the money in the world, but they don’t want to do it.
Let’s call a spade a spade … it’s only a racial thing. That’s all it is. I mean, let’s be honest about it, you know? There’s no other way to put it. There’s no other way.
It’s like, you know, how do you put something in your body or do a treatment that you know hasn’t been tested on you, or on someone like you? It’s a hard thing to say, “Well, you know, it probably would work the same,” but how do you know that? There weren’t any black men in the trial. You don’t know.
African-American men are willing to accrue into clinical trials just like anyone else.
They are, because, as we say, when we have our programs, African Americans are more comfortable talking to African American doctors. We encourage them to see African American doctors because they trust them more and they feel more comfortable doing that, so that’s why we steer them towards African American doctors.
Men don’t really talk about Tuskegee. In fact, a lot of men don’t even know about it nowadays. A lot of those men are gone, and the younger people, they don’t really deal with Tuskegee. We have to deal with today, what’s going on today, so men are comfortable talking with people are their own race. It’s just a fact, you know. You wouldn’t send a Caucasian to a Hispanic doctor. They’re not comfortable with them. They want to talk to somebody their own way the majority of the time, so what’s the way life is. We get more results that way.
Learn more about Ed’s program, 50Hoops at www.50hoops.org