Bert Jones, VCCS associate vice chancellor of facilities management services, was 52 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. “I was completely blindsided, says Jones. “And when I started trying to learn more about it, the lack of information was frustrating.”
“The other big problem is that men will not talk about prostate cancer,” says Jones. “And so, I’ve made it my mission to try and convince men that it’s okay to be more open about this. We just need more people to understand and be aware, because if it’s caught early enough, prostate cancer is one of, if not the most treatable forms of cancer.”
The American Cancer Society estimates 6,540 men in Virginia will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2021, and the disease will take the lives of 940 in the commonwealth.
After his surgery in November 2011, Jones created the Prostate Cancer Educational Institute of Virginia (PCEIVa), a non-profit organization to provide support and education for men who have been diagnosed with or treated for prostate cancer.
And Jones has turned to his longtime passion for golf to help support the organization’s outreach efforts. Last week, more than 100 Richmond area golfers turned out for the 10th annual fund-raising tournament that Jones has organized for PCEIVa. The event raised more than $15,000.
Not all the participants were men. Tikki Hicks, who knew Jones when he worked at the state corrections department, said any cancer diagnosis affects the entire family. “This subject is dear to my heart. I am a mother of two sons, and I have a wonderful husband. And cancer has affected so many of my loved ones that I’m glad to be here today to show my support.”
Prostate cancer survivor Bill Duff benefited from Jones’s organization, then decided to join the board. “It helps me to help other people that are going through the same journey that I’ve been on, just to support someone that’s facing surgery or having to deal with prostate cancer,” said Duff.
“When they mention cancer and your name in the same sentence, that’s an eye opener,” said Miles Lynn, another board member. “We meet monthly, these days that’s online, and we have seasoned veterans that have been through most any phase of treatment that’s out there, and they are able to relate their experiences to the newbie fellows coming in and help them get through this.”
Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and in non-Hispanic Black men. About six cases in ten are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age of men at diagnosis is about 66.
PCEIVa is a 501 (c)(3) organization. Learn more about it here.