A Veteran’s Call to Action: Take Charge, Know Your Risk for Prostate Cancer

Milton "Trey" Wilborn III and his wife Shawni share experience with aggressive prostate cancer and words of wisdom


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VA teamed up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to encourage men (and their families) to better understand prostate cancer risk and to take proactive measures to protect their health.

2021 will come with new ideas and goals, and there’s no better time to know your risk. Now is the time to make a plan to talk to your doctor at your next checkup about whether prostate cancer screening is right for you.

Gulf War Veteran Milton “Trey” Wilborn III, who lost his battle to an aggressive form of prostate cancer at the age of 49 in 2020, generously volunteered to share his story with other Veterans. In the newly released video, co-created by the VA Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships and PCF, Wilborn urged men to get checked, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms or feel they are too young.

“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 45,” Wilborn said. “I never even knew what a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) was. I didn’t know what a prostate was until I got sick.”

VA partnered with PCF in 2016 to advance best-in-class research and care for Veterans at risk for prostate cancer. Oncologists at 12 VA PCF Centers of Excellence (COE’s) are collaborating to bring the latest breakthroughs to Veterans.

To date, PCF has committed more than $50 million to this collaboration and recently publicly announced a commitment to help stand up 21 total COEs. So far, hundreds of Veterans have been seen by a doctor for precision oncology at one of 12 COEs across the country. These centers are working to ensure every Veteran can access cutting-edge advances in prostate cancer research and treatment.

“VA does take care of their Veterans,” Wilborn says in the video. “Their treatment is the best, you have all the newest, latest, greatest equipment and everything in all the treatments.”

When PCF started working with the Washington DC VA Medical Center, Wilborn and his wife Shawni stepped up to work with PCF to champion prostate cancer awareness. You can read more about their touching story here.

Milton shared how the message of early detection, if it reached just one Veteran, could save lives. “God put me in a position to be able to tell my story,” he said, adding that he was grateful for the opportunity to help educate other men and their families.

Among those that VA and PCF hope to reach: African American men remain the hardest hit by prostate cancer. They are 79% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men, and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to men of other ethnicities.

Precision screening is the best defense for men against prostate cancer. Awareness of your risk and talking to your doctor about screening are the next steps every man can take in 2021.

Learn more at https://www.pcf.org/vets/.

In addition, PCF has a variety of resources to help guide you, whether you have or have not yet been screened. You can find those resources here.

VA’s cancer screening guidelines are available at https://www.prevention.va.gov/.


Ashleigh Barry is a senior advisor for VA’s Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships. Rebecca Levine, from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, contributed to this story.

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VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Marc    

    Disabled veteran spouse currently assigned overseas unable to get COVID-19 immunization or test, let alone a PSA test! Local military hospital (only one in the country) states they are NO LONGER authorized to provide medical treatment for retirees or disabled veterans…!!! We need VA medical help here…!!!

  2. Edward Shannon    

    In 2000 my diagnostic biopsy was GS 5.

    After removal, pathologist said it was a GS of 7.
    Pre- surgery biopsy is limited in determining true score. But still a good indicator

  3. Mary Horton    

    Why does the VA stop testing PSA after 70 years of age. My husband now has prostate cancer on top of PTSD, alzheimers and Parkinsons. Would have been nice to address this earlier.

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