Prostate cancer is an illness experienced by many actors. Many of them have been increasingly willing to publicly divulge that part of their private lives.
An example is Louis Gossett, Jr. He is a leading American actor, best known for his Oscar-winning role as a tough drill sergeant in "An Officer and a Gentleman." He is just one of several Hollywood "greats" who was recently diagnosed and treated for this disease, in his case at the age of 73.
Evidently he made sure to check whether he had prostate cancer. He did so by insisting on routine testing. As a result it was detected at an early stage, as was the case for most of us prostate cancer survivors.
Getting screened was a smart move on Mr. Gossett's part. After all, African-Americans, regardless of social status, unfortunately have a relatively high incidence of prostate cancer. The rate is about a fifty-percent higher rate among blacks than among Caucasian-Americans, and some say twice the number of whites.
Why higher incidents occur among blacks has been debated over the years. It's likely due to a combination of genetic factors and cultural issues. This includes a greater reluctance of many to take better care of their health. Then too it might be a reflection of African-Americans greater aversion to the digital rectal exam (DRE) than the type of hesitation whites exhibit. But nobody really knows for sure.
What makes Mr. Gossett stand out is not only that he's been one of America's greatest actors in the course of his 73 years. He's also an outstanding role model, as a celebrity who endorses routine annual prostate cancer screening.
Since his diagnosis he has taken it upon himself to speak to other African-Americans about the need for prostate cancer awareness and testing. Evidently he feels morally obliged to speak out on this issue, which sets him apart from many other celebrities with this disease.
As someone who got proper medical attention because he took the proper precautions, Louis Gossett, Jr., is in an ideal position to bring the dangers of prostate cancer to the attention of his fellow-Americans. He didn't have to go that route. But this speaks to his character and sense of common purpose, much to his credit..
It is so important that our "idols" use their influence for good. Louis Gossett, Jr., is doing precisely that.