Cleveland Clinic's Minority Men's Health Fair changing attitudes, saving lives

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Putting off a doctor's appointment could cut years off your life. It's a message Dr. Charles Modlin is working to get across to men as the Cleveland Clinic Minority Men's Health Fair celebrates its 15th anniversary.

Thursday night, hundreds of doctors and medical professionals will be at Cleveland Clinic's main campus performing dozens of free health screenings. Some of the tests and topics include: Blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, prostate cancer and sickle cell. The event runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event is open to men of all ages, races and backgrounds.

"Men who are not healthy don't have the ability to reach their full potential," Dr. Modlin said.

Dr. Modlin, a urologist, is the director of Cleveland Clinic's Minority Men's Health Center.

"Reluctancy of not wanting to go to the doctor (and) not wanting to undergo routine, preventative health screenings leads to mortality and unnecessary suffering," Dr. Modlin said. "A lot of times these medial conditions are in more advanced stages when they're diagnosed. Many conditions you can have and not have any symptoms or signs what so ever."

Prostate cancer is one of the conditions Dr. Modlin says has a significant impact on the African American community.

"Black men should undergo screenings for prostate cancer starting at the age of 40. Where as in general, white men don't need to start screenings until age 55- unless they have a strong family history."

He said black men are two times more likely to develop and die from prostate cancer than white man.

Dr. Modlin said high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke are other screening and topics men should be aware of.

"A lot of these health care disparities can lead to male sexual health issues, and so we as urologists can address these issues," Dr. Modlin said.

Not attending regular doctor's appointments nearly cost Ron Kisner his life.

"I had been battling hypertension a good portion of my life, but I didn't know the association between hypertension and kidney disease," Kisner said. "I just didn't know. No one had really broken it down to me."

A visit to the Minority Men's Health Fair several years ago allowed doctors to properly treat kidney failure Kisner was experiencing. Had it not been for those regular checkups the condition would have likely gone unnoticed for months- even years.

Kisner was on dialysis for several years. In August of 2016 he underwent a kidney transplant. Dr. Modlin was his surgeon.

"Mr. Kisner wants to facilitate in saving the lives of others through his testimony (and) many people have actually taken action," Dr. Modlin said.

Kisner doesn't want men to put off seeing a doctor regularly.

"Unfortunately, I think a lot of it is cultural," Kisner said. "We've been socialized as men from boys to suck it up. If you hurt your knee it's alright. We've seen it in the NFL- your head is banged up- take 30 minutes but go back in the game."

He's one of the Minority Men's Health Fair's biggest advocate. He often brings flyers to the gym and grocery stores.

"I'm thinking if you don't have your health, you can forget about your scheduled because you won't be able to keep it or meet it."

Dr. Modln said each year more and more men are taking the advice, but he said there's still work to do.

"We're here to let men know that their plight matters. We care about their well-being- their health," Dr. Modlin said.

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