By Wiley Henry
MEMPHIS, TN — Sylvester Fulton was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2016. “Like anybody else, you’d be surprised, confused, or shocked,” he said. “I was feeling good. I had no side-affects, or nothing.”
He opted for treatment at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Newnan, GA. Two treatments of brachytherapy (internal radiation) – three weeks apart – and he’s cancer free.
After his second treatment, Fulton looked for organizations that advocate for men, such as a support group. He wanted to get involved; he was discouraged. So, he started his own.
“I wanted to do something that I like to do and do it in the Black community – and that is ride bikes,” he said.
In 2018, Fulton started cycling to create awareness and to promote early detection. Survivors donned their gear and joined him for the inaugural bike ride through the Black community.
Committed cyclists return each year in September in recognition of National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and ride for their lives and to save the lives of other men who may be grappling with the disease.
“It’s the leading cause of death for Black men,” Fulton said.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, starting at 7 a.m., cyclists will start at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 2070 Chelsea Ave., for a 20-mile bike ride and return to the church after the tour is completed.
Cyclists choosing the 5-mile bike ride will start at 8 a.m. at the church and end there. Fulton is expecting at least 50 cyclists to join him for another fun bike ride for “prostate, pedals and prayer.”
A blood test called a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) screening will be provided at the end of the bike ride. The test determines the level of PSA in the blood – if it’s elevated or not.
Brochures and pamphlets promoting prevention through early detection and various treatment options will be distributed at the church. Vaccinations for covid will be administered as well.
It would have been a different story altogether if Fulton’s prostate cancer had not been detected early. Now he’s encouraging men to get screened to avoid an unfavorable diagnosis.
“Men don’t take care of themselves like women do,” said Fulton, Bellevue Middle School’s new family engagement specialist. “If cancer gets outside the prostate and [travels] into the lymph nodes, you have a whole different situation.”
He credits his wife, Angela, and daughter, Camille, for supporting him after his diagnosis and throughout the treatment process.
Today, at the age of 63, Fulton is laser-focused on his health and the welfare of other men who may not know the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer – and treatment options after a diagnosis.
Consider the following statistics from the American Cancer Society:
• African-American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer – up to 50 percent higher than the average American man.
• Prostate cancer can be cured if detected early
• 1 in 6 American men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetimes
• Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men
• Men 40+ should speak with their healthcare provider about both PSA and DRE prostate health exams
Fulton is adamant about getting his point across that prostate cancer is a serious and potentially deadly disease.
“There is a stigma about cancer,” he said, adding: “I will tell anyone, just don’t panic.”
For more information about the “prostate, pedals and prayer” bike ride, contact Sylvester Fulton at 901-219-3616 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.