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Meet the Women Advocating for the Black Prostate Cancer Community

Throughout April, ZERO will be recognizing National Minority Health Month, a time to raise awareness about health disparities that disproportionately affect racial minorities. When it comes to prostate cancer, African-American men are at a higher risk than any other race.  Overall, African-American men are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease, and even more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men.

Sharon Rose at the Capitol building

Black men are dying from prostate cancer at an alarming rate, and ZERO is committed to raising awareness about this disparity. In recent years, we’ve seen so many amazing members of the prostate cancer community advocate for early detection, better access to health care, and widespread outreach for the Black community and other high-risk groups. 

To kick off Minority Health Month, we are highlighting two women who are on the front lines of advocacy for Black men with prostate cancer. Elyssa Taylor-Stewart lost her husband to prostate cancer, and Sharon Rose lost her father to the disease. Today, they are both fighting tirelessly to narrow this racial disparity within prostate cancer. 

"Get screened, get checked, do all the things you need to do, especially if you have prostate cancer in your family.”

Elyssa and Douglas Stewart

“Really, truthfully, I want to bring awareness to the Black and Brown community, to our men. Get screened, get checked, do all the things you need to do, especially if you have prostate cancer in your family,” Elyssa told ZERO. After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Elyssa’s late husband Douglas was involved in a clinical trial. Being an active participant in prostate cancer research, Elyssa explained, was something that Douglas valued, and ever since she has upheld his legacy of helping others and making a difference.

“He said, ‘if me doing this clinical trial can help other men, especially men of color, then I wanna do it.’ Douglas was a lifelong educator and committed his life to helping others, so this was just part and partial to who he was as a person,” Elyssa said. Her husband’s willingness to help others is something that Elyssa carries with her as an advocate for her community. She has helped fundraise for the Los Angeles ZERO Run/Walk event, and she was a featured speaker for ZERO’s 2020 End of Year campaign where she shared her story. Click here to watch her full video!

Sharon Rose similarly turned to advocacy after losing a family member to prostate cancer. Her father passed away after a long-fought battle with the disease; ever since, Sharon has shifted her focus from caregiver to advocate, and has worked to raise awareness so that other African-American families know their unique risk.

“I learned, through advocacy with ZERO, how much prostate cancer affected my race, how much it affected the African-American man. Having a husband, having brothers, having nephews, cousins, it affects all of our lives,” Sharon told ZERO. “We’re all in this together.”

Sharon Rose at the Summit in Washington D.C.

We all know that prostate cancer most directly affects the men in our lives. Sharon said that part of being an advocate means contributing to a support network and fostering a sense of community, including the women, children, and friends of prostate cancer patients. She took to the 2021 ZERO Summit to share her story as a Black woman advocating for prostate cancer awareness. 

A problem had is a problem shared. When you’re going through this, knowing you’re not the only one.”

“It’s not just about the prostate cancer. It’s about the survivors and the caregivers that exchange the information to support each other. A problem had is a problem shared. When you’re going through this, knowing you’re not the only one.” Sharon served as a Summit Ambassador, and made such an impact on getting the word out and making this year’s virtual event possible.

We can’t thank Elyssa and Sharon enough for showing their support and raising critical prostate cancer awareness to the Black community. For more information about race and prostate cancer, revisit our segment from this year’s virtual summit on Racial Disparities in Prostate Cancer and Black Men.

Eliot Barnhart

Written by Eliot Barnhart. A true local, Eliot grew up right around the corner from ZERO’s HQ in Alexandria, VA. He’s been in the DC area practically his whole life and can tell you everything you need to know about the city, from the best bike routes to the best brunch deals.

With a background in writing and journalism, Eliot is passionate about uplifting important voices by sharing their stories. At ZERO, he has his hand in publishing blogs, social media, and digital communications, and hopes to further ZERO’s mission by highlighting the perspectives of people who have been affected by prostate cancer. He is honored to be part of such a tight-knit community that is dedicated to one common cause: to end prostate cancer.

Prior to joining the ZERO team, Eliot worked in many different environments, from newsrooms to coffee roasteries. When he’s not working, Eliot can be found playing intramural kickball on the National Mall, catching a show at the 9:30 Club, or escaping to Shenandoah for the weekend. Send Eliot an email at