PHEN Network Member Spotlight
Deacon Raymond Fuller, Jr.
During a regular check-up in 2008, Ray Fuller was diagnosed with prostate cancer. There was no family history of the disease, he said, it “just popped up.” For treatment, he decided to use the minimally invasive laparoscopic prostatectomy surgery. The Boston man describes his prostate health today as “great—barring the cancer itself.”
“Because no one in my family (had the disease), it became alarming to me that there might be others outside myself who didn’t do regular exams,” Fuller explained. “Especially black men.” That led to his decision to get involved with the Prostate Health Education Network, and the importance of an enlightened pastoral leader made an important difference. His church pastor, Bishop John M. Borders put him in touch with Tom Farrington when Fuller first confided his diagnosis. Then, “I took it upon myself to get involved,” he said. “Prostate cancer can take you out if you don’t do something about it.” For Fuller, his membership in Morning Star Baptist Church became an easy choice for involvement. “There are different ways to go about involvement, the church being one,” he explained. “The Church is a good place to reach out to black men.”
He was involved with Morning Star’s hosting of the PHEN symposium during fall of 2017. Fuller describes the educational forum as “very successful,” with good ratings from participants. He looks forward to being part of another in a continuing partnership with the Mattapan congregation and “will try my best so that it happens.” [Symposiums are held in churches across the US from March to October. Typically, information is shared from medical, pharmaceutical professionals and survivors]
Because churches are such an important community asset, Fuller says they must play a big part in helping mobilize black men to take their health seriously. The retired analytical chemist is willing to help other churches organize men’s ministries, or health ministries, to speak to men face to face and as well as direct them to get an exam once a year. He says “many black men don’t take it very seriously, so sometimes we have to get insulted to get the message across.” He hopes women will also encourage and motivate the men in their lives to get check-ups.
Fuller also takes an active part in support group meetings, where he learned about different types of options for treatments and, very importantly, how to reach out to others and share information. At one point, there were only a couple of treatment options, Fuller remembered. “Now there are about eight different options.” He surmises his most important takeaway from PHEN involvement, “You can live with prostate cancer and not die from prostate cancer. The organization continues to explore new ways to get messages to masses of black men" and Farrington, he says, “keeps lots of irons in the fire, and I plan to be right with it until the end.”