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Gift of Life Saves Lives During Men’s Health Month

Special to The Leader

BEAUMONT — With an attendance of nearly 450 Southeast Texan men at its recent healthcare screening for medically underserved individuals at sites in Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange during June, National Men’s Health Month, the Gift of Life and its medical partners significantly impacted the lives of these individuals through its provision of critical medical tests.
“We are proud that we were able to provide so many primary care tests, which are essential to the peace of mind of our clients who face daunting barriers to medical care because they cannot afford insurance or struggle with the financial challenges of high deductibles,” said Gift of Life Executive Director Norma Sampson. “In many cases, these men are completely unaware that they have hidden complications, which can cause serious harm to their bodies. The knowledge we provide empowers them to be aware of these symptoms and take strides to preserve their health.”
In a collaborative effort with medical professionals, local organizations and businesses, the Gift of Life provided each client with a full panel of comprehensive healthcare services. More than 70 volunteers from Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, Legacy Community Health Services, Gulf Coast Health Center, Triangle Area Network, other medical groups and Lamar University performed primary care tests. Volunteer physicians Bodo Brauer, MD; John Fowler, MD; Apryl Mensah, MD; and Moses E. Wilcox, Sr., MD, were available for consultations and personalized education to ensure each client received a positive medical experience.
“The Gift of Life is a vital resource in our community,” said Program Services Coordinator Christina Morris, BSN, RNC. “Our clients rely on the services and education we provide. Our mission to bridge the gap that exists because of health disparities could not be accomplished without the support of a skilled team of medical partners who generously donate their time and services to our efforts.”
Studies suggest that despite the momentum of medical technology, on average, American men will die five years earlier than their female counterparts. In 2015, prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 230,000 men. Although the survival rate is nearly 100 percent when diagnosed early, an estimated 29,000 men will die from the disease this year.
“[Preventive] screenings reduce the number of people who are diagnosed with cancer and the number of people who die from cancer,” said Apryl S. Mensah, MD, radiation oncologist associated with the Julie and Ben Rogers Cancer Institute. “I appreciate the fact that the Gift of Life also performs routine health tests like blood pressure and cholesterol, because we’ve seen a large number of clients experiencing high cholesterol, hypertension, hyperglycemic states and other problems. We are effecting change, not just in their cancer risk, but also in their overall healthcare.”
This mission is funded in part by donations raised during the program’s annual men’s health fundraiser, Champagne & Ribs. Additional support is provided from a City of Port Arthur Community Development Block Grant, Jefferson County Commissioner’s Court, the Wilton and Effie Mae Hebert Foundation and the Young Men’s Business League (YMBL).
Since 2000, the Gift of Life has made available more than 8,000 free prostate cancer screenings and helped extend the lives of nearly 70 men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and whose diagnostic and cancer treatment costs were entirely underwritten by the Gift of Life.
The Gift of Life screens men who are at least 45 years of age (40 if African American or younger if there is a family history of prostate cancer) who have not had prostate cancer, have limited income and are medically underinsured.
For additional information, please contact the Gift of Life at 409.833.3663 or visit giftoflifebmt.org.