Warm greetings and a hearty sense of camaraderie permeated the air Sunday when nearly a hundred bikers turned out for the Sixth Annual Blessing of the Bikes at West Angelus Christian Center.
“We come each year to be blessed by Pastor Charles Blake and to unite fellow bikers in a spiritual setting,” said Leroy Cain, founder of the National Brotherhood of Bikers Association. “We look forward to the blessing to share spiritual guidance for the upcoming year,” he said.
The Sixth Annual Blessing of the Bikes was held in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, which has launched a campaign to urge more African Americans to get tested for colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both African men and women and the most commonly diagnosed cancer among African American men.
“African American men have a higher risk factor than most nationalities,” said Sherice Bellamy, senior account executive with Lagrant Communications. “But if it is detected early, 90% of it is preventable,” said Bellamy, who said that the ACS campaign is targeting African Americans, 50 or older.
Cain said that he has also urged his fellow bikers to get tested for colon cancer.
Biker Milton Loupe said he got tested for colon cancer last year. “The test came out clean,” he said. “I think black men eat too much meat and that is why we are being diagnosed with colon cancer. We also seem to deal with a lot of life stresses which also cause internal chemical imbalances and strains on the body that most black men are not aware of. It’s important for them to be tested and check their food intake on a continuous basis.”
Ron Johnson, 52, and a Harley Davidson bike rider, said that he got tested two weeks ago. “My wife urged me to get it done. It should be mandatory testing for black men 40 years of age and up,” said Johnson.
David Williams, 53, a member of the Just Us Bike club, said that he regularly gets tested for colon cancer. “My father died from colon cancer,” said Williams. “He got sick at the age of 63 and by the time they diagnosed his colon cancer, it was too late. It’s the deadliest killer in the black race,” said Williams. “It kills thousands black men every year because they don’t know it’s a secret killer.”
Bellamy said that many black men dread going to the doctor to get tested primarily because most believe testing involves a rectal exam. “But many people don’t know that there are six ways to get tested for colon cancer,” said Bellamy.
Statistics estimate that 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 will die of the disease in 2008. Nearly 7,200 cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in California and more than 2,600 individuals will die from the disease.