Gift of Life provides lifesaving healthcare for more than 630 men
To The Leader
BEAUMONT, Texas — During June, National Men’s Health Month, local county and city officials and volunteers, including Gift of Life Orange Community Chair Joe King, Philanthropist Gisela Houseman, West Orange Mayor Roy McDonald and Orange County Commissioner Johnny Trahan, encouraged and motivated clients at Gift of Life’s screening site at the Lamar State College Orange – J. Michael & Bridget Shahan Event Facility.
“I think men often think that there’s nothing they can do about their health because they can’t afford it,” says Joe King, prostate cancer survivor and Gift of Life Community Chair in Orange. “However, there are many services and organizations out there to help men. In Southeast Texas, we are fortunate to have the Gift of Life, which provides free health screenings for local men in need. I love volunteering with them because I want to show other men that there is help available! Don’t be afraid to reach out!”
Gift of Life and its health and wellness partners provided an extensive scope of medical care, prevention education and support services in Orange to 126 men who cannot afford medical insurance or their high deductibles, along with an additional 501 men in Beaumont and Port Arthur, for a total of nearly 630 men.
“This year, Gift of Life not only saw an increase in the number of men who received care at the June screenings, but also expanded its Men’s Health & Prostate Cancer Screening initiatives to address critical, unmet health needs of ‘at-risk’ men and their families who experience heightened barriers to care,” Gift of Life Executive Director Norma Sampson said.
Through its regional collaborative health and wellness consortiums in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, the organization broadened its range of resources to include: primary care and PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screenings; cancer prevention education and screenings; information on chronic and infectious diseases and hearing, eye and dental preventative care; and on-site health services that included physician consultations and clinical appointments for clients with abnormal outcomes.
Many committed groups and individuals advanced Gift of Life’s cause to save lives by providing ancillary services and direct goods, including: Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, Gulf Coast Health Centers, Lamar State College (Orange and Port Arthur), Lamar University, Legacy Community Health, P.A.L.M. Center, Southeast Texas Food Bank, Spindletop Center, Texas State Optical – Port Arthur, TAN Healthcare and the University of Texas Medical Branch. Through its partnership with these organizations, the Gift of Life can extend support services to its clients beyond immediate healthcare needs and address household trials, like job loss and post-hurricane recovery for those still impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange Health Consortium members, regional elected officials, program supporters and hundreds of compassionate and caring volunteers publicized and participated in Gift of Life’s platform for equitable health opportunities and the reduction of disparities for medically underserved individuals.
Throughout May and June, John Fowler, MD, 2019 Men’s Health Month honorary chair, served as a champion of the Gift of Life’s Men’s Program and encouraged all men to “be a man and get checked.”
“As a physician, I recognize the importance of cancer screenings, particularly with prostate cancer, which has a significant increase in the survival rate with early detection,” Dr. Fowler said. “I endorse the mission of Gift of Life and consider it an honor to contribute my time and expertise in support of the organization’s cancer screenings and education. Gift of Life truly saves lives!”
All screening clients and their families received boxes of nonperishable food and watermelons from Southeast Texas Food Bank and bags of fresh produce from Gift of Life, in partnership with H-E-B. The goods were a much-needed blessing for many Southeast Texas families trying to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey.
“This means so much to me and my family,” said a screening client. “Gift of Life brings hope and relief when it’s needed the most. I am very grateful.”
Countless clients similarly expressed gratitude for the extra care and concern they received from Gift of Life staff and the hundreds of volunteers.
Studies indicate that despite improved medical technology, on average, American men will die five years earlier than their female counterparts. The medical community estimates that, in 2019, prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 174,650 American men and an estimated 31,620 will die from the disease this year.
Since 2000, Gift of Life has made available more than 10,000 free prostate cancer screenings and helped extend the lives of 77 men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and whose diagnostic and cancer treatment costs were entirely underwritten by Gift of Life.
Men recently diagnosed with cancer, along with survivors and their families and caregivers, are encouraged to join Gift of Life’s Prostate Cancer Support Group, Men Against Cancer (MAC). Meetings are hosted the second Tuesday of each month at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and provide men an opportunity to share experiences and gain information from featured speakers who address medical issues and recovery.
A portion of the funding used for the Men’s Health Month Screenings was provided by a generous American Red Cross grant to advance urgent healthcare needs in Southeast Texas.
For additional information, please contact Gift of Life at 409-833-3663 or visit giftoflifebmt.org.
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