When the Sequoyah Indians march across Thompson Field to battle the Beggs Demons Friday night, players will be sporting a small blue ribbon promoting prostate cancer awareness on their helmets, in a game being billed the “Man Up Game.”
“I think we are one of the first high school teams in the state to help promote prostate cancer awareness like this,” said Greg Bilby, public health educator for Cherokee Nation Cancer Programs. “If these young men can influence members of their families or anyone at the game to get checked, then we’ve done some good.”
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It’s the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men in the country. Native American men are typically diagnosed at a later stage of cancer growth when treatment options are limited, leading to higher mortality rates than other ethnicities, according to the American Cancer Society.
“Anytime you can get a large group of people together and bring attention to something like cancer awareness, there's never a negative in that,” Sequoyah Football Head Coach Shane Richardson said. “Cancer reaches everyone’s family and everybody’s life in some way, so being involved in bringing attention to it is something we take pretty seriously.”
For Sequoyah’s campus security officer, Deputy Marshal Clay Troutman, who works football games, the cause hits close to home. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 and lost both his father and grandfather to the disease. Troutman was fortunate to catch the cancer early and is currently cancer free.
“Prostate cancer isn’t really something that you talk about around the water cooler. As guys, we don’t think about it, we don’t talk about it, but I think it does need to be recognized,” Troutman said. “I’m in full support of the team, or anybody wanting to help promote awareness for the men in the crowd.”
Sequoyah also holds an annual “Think Pink Game” for breast cancer awareness on Oct. 4, and a “Pack It Purple Game” for domestic violence awareness on Oct. 17
For general information about prostate cancer awareness, contact Greg Bilby at 918-453-5381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.