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Representative La Shawn K. Ford to be Honored as 2022 ZERO Health Equity Advocacy Award Recipient

Media Contact:
Jessica Fetrow

Rep. Ford to be recognized for advocacy of lifesaving bill to increase access to prostate cancer screening in Illinois

Rep. La Shawn Ford

Chicago, IL, Sept. 16, 2022 – ZERO Prostate Cancer is proud to announce Illinois state Representative La Shawn K. Ford as the recipient of the 2022 ZERO Health Equity Advocacy Award in recognition of his work in the passing of Illinois HB 5318. Illinois HB 5318, which will increase access to prostate cancer screening in Illinois, was offered by Representative La Shawn K. Ford, a prostate cancer survivor, and signed into law by Governor Pritzker in June of 2022. 

“I am honored to be the recipient of an award as impactful as the ZERO Health Equity Advocacy Award,” said Representative Ford. “As a prostate cancer survivor, I know first-hand the importance of early detection and access to screening. Illinois HB 5318 is essential in removing significant financial roadblocks for men of all backgrounds prioritizing their health, and I am proud to have worked with ZERO, the leading national prostate cancer non-profit, in the effort to eliminate health disparities and end prostate cancer.”

According to the American Cancer Society, Black men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with and 2.1 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than White men. Black men are more likely than white men to be diagnosed with advanced disease.

“ZERO is grateful to Representative Ford for his tireless support and effort in the fight against prostate cancer and health equity,” said Jamie Bearse, CEO and President of ZERO. “The disproportionate impact of prostate cancer on African-American men is due primarily to differences in access to screening and care, and the removal of cost barriers to screening and the tools for diagnosis is a first step to ensuring that men are diagnosed with prostate cancer at its most treatable stage and so that we can eliminate the excess mortality that affects African-American men. We’re proud to honor Representative Ford and look forward to continuing to stand beside him in the fight to end prostate cancer.”

Illinois HB 5318 will provide “coverage for an annual prostate cancer screening for male insureds, without imposing a deductible, coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirement.” This includes PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing and digital rectal examinations, in addition to “subsequent follow-up testing as directed by a healthcare provider, including, but not limited to, urinary analysis, serum biomarkers, and medical imaging.” The bill will go into effect in 2024.

Early detection is key to survival, as 98% of men survive at least five years when prostate cancer is caught early. However, for “distant” prostate cancer, or cancer that has spread to bones, organs, or distant lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate drops from 98% to 31%. 

Rep. Ford will be presented with the ZERO Health Equity Advocacy Award at the Chicago-SEABlue ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at 8:15 am CT, at Diversey Harbor – 2601 N Cannon Dr., Chicago IL 60614. For questions, please contact Ali Manson, ZERO’s Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy.

About ZERO Prostate Cancer

ZERO Prostate Cancer is the leading national nonprofit with the mission to end prostate cancer and help all who are impacted. ZERO advances research, provides support, and creates solutions to achieve health equity to meet the most critical needs of our community. From early detection to survivorship, ZERO is the premier resource for prostate cancer patients and their families to access comprehensive support, make meaningful connections, and take action to save lives. Our dedicated national and chapter staff is joined with a growing team of passionate volunteer champions to increase advocacy, awareness, and community engagement to ZERO out prostate cancer. ZERO is recognized with four out of four stars by Charity Navigator and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. ZERO spends more on programs than any other prostate cancer charity, dedicating 85 cents of every dollar to support, education, and research.