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Prostate cancer survivor encourages screenings during Men’s Health Month

A Madison community leader is talking about his experience in hopes others will get screened sooner.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 7:22 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Community leader Gary Davis is a prostate cancer survivor who wants more people to talk about their health and get screened for this aggressive form of cancer.

According to UW-Health experts, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the average age of diagnosis is 65 and the illness impacts more Black men at an earlier age.

Gary Davis was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his forties, though his health has progressed for the better, he thinks it’s important for more men to talk about their health before it’s too late.

“As boys we were taught you have to be tough,” Davis said. “You’re not supposed to show weakness. You’re supposed to be OK. You’re supposed to get up when you fall down and a lot of times it’s not the truth.”

It’s not easy by any means, but Gary’s physician Dr. Douglas McNeel said treatment for prostate cancer improved within the last few years. He said the treatment can sometimes deter men from getting screened.

”It’s great for him to be willing to share his story because men in general don’t like to talk about prostate cancer,” Dr. McNeel said. “They don’t like to talk about any health concerns and it’s important to get these messages out that prostate cancer is a serious disease and that if we find it early we can do things about it.”

Davis works at Briarpatch Youth Services in Madison to help teens find employment, but he hopes his story does more, he wants them to learn that vulnerability is important because life is too short not to talk about one’s health.

“I just tell people we should all live like we have cancer because... we all have an expiration date,” Davis said. “The difference is if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready.”

Dr. McNeel runs a cancer research lab at the UW Carbone Cancer Center working to create a vaccine that would generate an immune response for men that could kill cancer cells in the prostate.

He said the clinical trials are still in the early stages, but he hopes to move on to larger trials in the next few years.

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