PHEN Network Member Spotlight
Artie L. Shelton, MD
Survivor Network Regional Coordinator
Artie Shelton MD credits an “astute urologist” at Walter Reed Hospital with leading to his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2003. The urologist noticed his PSA was “in the normal range, but had elevated from the previous year, so a biopsy was ordered.” Two weeks later, the retired Army Colonel got the news. ‘You have prostate cancer.’ It was a “total shock” he said, even though he had a strong family history with the disease. An uncle died of metastatic prostate cancer and his father was diagnosed with an early stage of the disease. Dr. Shelton opted for the radical prostatectomy surgical procedure that removes all of the prostate gland. Today, some 14 years later, “everything is within the normal limits,” and his PSA is “undetectable.”
I am a “warrior-survivor” the colonel who served 21 years in the military proudly proclaims. “You have to be tough with this disease!”
Dr. Shelton, who is an allergist, became an advocate soon after his diagnosis. “Even though I am a physician, I realized that we (men) do not have enough knowledge to understand (the disease’s impact)." He credits the PHEN organization for its educational and moral support during the most difficult time in his life.
Besides working with PHEN, Dr. Shelton serves on the Maryland Council of Cancer Control, appointed to 6-year terms first by Governor Martin O’Malley and subsequently Governor Larry Hogan. He has been active in co-writing chapters of executive summary for Maryland on prostate cancer. He takes pride in making Vietnam veterans aware of compensation opportunities if diagnosed with the disease, due to exposure to Agent Orange. (the toxic herbicide widely used during the war) Additionally, he serves on the Department of Defense’s— Medical Research Congressionally Directed Medical Research Consumer Working Group, as a consumer reviewer and advocate. “Naturally,” he says he meets with men’s groups in churches and in the community “as an advocate for education under the PHEN umbrella.” He says he wants to make sure “PHEN gets recognition for the outstanding outreach work it does.”
Partnering with PHEN on educational programs “is the most far-reaching exposure we can have,” he said and pointed to the Father’s Day Rally, multi-city symposiums and annual summits held in Washington, DC and an upcoming stage play, as examples. “Giving symposiums at no cost to participants is very impressive.”
“Without a question,” he added, “Faith based organizations and all health groups must take a lead to combat this disease, which can be cured, if diagnosed early.” He believes that churches and community organizations must take advantage of their leadership roles and position in society to raise public awareness. “They must help get the word out on incidence, morbidity and mortality in African American men,” he said.
He met Tom Farrington at PHEN’s first Prostate Cancer Summit in Washington D.C., and was glad to find an organization with people he could feel comfortable learning from. “I, like so many men and their families, was vulnerable, and needed to be educated,” he said. PHEN “is a God send.” It helped educate this medical professional on “how I can go through this journey.”