100 Black Men of Northwest Georgia Health Initiative

In this 2018 file photo, Carmen Martinez chooses some fruit with her son Oliver Martinez, 7, at the 17th annual 100 Black Men of Northwest Georgia Health Initiative.

Larry G. Morrow Sr. knows first-hand the importance of various cancer screenings like the ones conducted for free this Saturday at the 18th Annual Health Initiative for Men and Women at the Floyd County Health Department.

“I decided that given my involvement with the 100 Black Men (of Rome-Northwest Georgia) and the initiative over the years, I would be the perfect poster person for prostate exams,” said Morrow, one of the founders of annual health fair that offers a variety of health and wellness tests, as well as educational booths by about 40 vendors.

In 2011 at the age of 64, Morrow discovered through a prostate exam offered by the initiative that his prostate-specific antigen — or PSA — number had almost doubled over the previous year.

This was a clear red flag for the retired Norfolk Southern Corp. manager.

“Sure enough, I had a tumor,” he said earlier this week. “My prostate was 2% cancerous. It was in the early stages, so I was able to have about 20 radiation treatments and now I’m cancer free since 2011.”

Morrow said he loves to tell his story to other African American men in the hopes of inspiring them to keep a close check on their health. According to medical statistics, African American men are 1.7 times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men.

However, Morrow and the chapter president of 100 Black Men, Rayford Horne, see the annual event as a way to raise awareness about the importance of health screenings for all Floyd County residents.

“This event could potentially save lives across our community,” said Horne, who has been involved with the effort for seven years now. “It’s an event you don’t want to miss.”

Morrow, who said he’s been encouraged by the annual return of many men at the fair, said it’s usually men in general who are resistant to getting check-ups. He said he hopes that by serving women for the fourth year now, as well, that will help convince the men in their lives to attend.

“Men just don’t want to do this for themselves,” he said. “Women can get them to come in.”

The Floyd Mobile Mammography Unit also will be on hand at the event at 16 E. 12th St. from 8 a.m. to noon. Appointments are first come, first served and can be made by calling 706-509-6840 and choosing “option 1.”

Bernice Silva, who helps coordinate the event, stressed that although there are only 25 slots available for the mammograms and as of Monday there were only a few appointments left, many times Floyd staff will allow participants at the fair to still have a free screening at a later date.

“I do believe this event makes a difference,” Silva said.

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