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Prostate Cancer Does Not Discriminate

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I devote my life to prostate cancer awareness and education. We have a long way to go to reach the heights scaled by our sisters promoting breast cancer awareness.

So much attention is being paid to the effects of the health care bill, which was one of the causes many officials were driven from office in the election earlier this month.

In remarks to the Middlesex, Connecticut Chamber of Commerce this week, retiring Senator Christopher Dodd stood by his vote for passage.

"I know the health care debate was troublesome. And obviously there are a lot of disagreements yet about whether or not this is going to work as well as we'd all like it to."

"My hope is that people work on fixing this and making it work better. I know there's a lot of talk about repealing this entirely. If you're going to repeal it, you have to replace it with something. None of us wants to go back where 30 or 35 percent of our gross domestic product is being consumed with health care cost. That can't persist and expect this nation to get back on its feet economically again."

"It's not just a health care issue, it's an economic issue that we have to confront. And while this bill is far from perfect, and I understand that, it's a great beginning that ought to allow us to get our arms around this issue and to provide as a great democracy and a great nation that no citizen of our country, no person, no family ever ought to have to suffer because they lack the resource and the ability to get decent health care. As Americans, we ought to be able to embrace that idea and come together around it."

Two hours before Senator Dodd held a 2 p.m. press conference the summer before last, I received phone calls and emails tipping me to its subject: He was announcing he had prostate cancer but that, like myself, it was caught in its earliest stages. Others in the Senate chamber with that experience include former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts, and Republicans Richard Shelby of Alabama and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.

Prostate cancer does not discriminate, it reaches across the political aisle. Senator Dodd is familiar with the work of my charity, Ed Randall's Fans for the Cure, dedicated to spreading the twin gospels of prostate cancer awareness and education. He disclosed that great research work is being done in the field of early detection in, of all places, Cuba, home of the 1959 Chevy.

But he was surprised to learn that a man is 33 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is breast cancer. One in six Caucasian men will be diagnosed with the disease, one in four if he is African American, where the incidence of prostate cancer is two to three times higher than in the white community, inexplicably and tragically.

But here's the good news this author shares with the soon to be senator from Connecticut. There is a 96 to 97 percent cure rate if the disease is detected early.

After five terms in the Senate preceded by four terms in the House beginning in 1974, Senator Chris Dodd leaves the political stage, grateful to share the rest of his life with his wife, Jackie, and two young daughters, Grace and Christina, thanks to early detection.