In 2008, a few days after a routine physical, R&B crooner Charlie Wilson received news that changed his life forever. He had prostate cancer. Wilson, who’s given us sweet, soulful music for over 40 years, first with the iconic funk trio the Gap Band, and then as a chart-topping solo artist, was understandably devastated. But with the support of his family, particularly his wife Mahin, who made that initial doctor appointment for him, he was able to pull through and today is cancer free, still electrifying audiences and stronger than ever.
Here, “Uncle Charlie” talks about his journey with prostate cancer and why Black men need to get serious about their health.
EBONY: African-American men are 1.6 times more likely to get prostate cancer, and more than twice as likely to die from it. How familiar with the disease were you before you were diagnosed?
Charlie Wilson: My dad was ill when I found out I had prostate cancer. I was quite surprised when he told me that he had it, but had never shared that information with anyone in our family. I wasn’t familiar with it at all, but once I got the diagnosis, and I thank God that it was detected early, my wife and I did a lot of research to determine the best treatment for me.
EBONY: Do you remember what was going through your head after you received your diagnosis? How did you face this new challenge in your life?
CW: I was numb. Like so many people, the word “cancer” terrified me. The doctor said he had good and bad news. The bad news was that I had prostate cancer and the good news was that it was detected early and could be treated. My supportive family and my faith in God made facing the challenge easier.
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