I started exercising about 15 years ago. I’ve been pretty healthy. I would go to the doctor to get my annual checkup, but not get the PSA (prostate early detection screening test). It was my wife’s insistence that made me go and get a PSA test.
The first time, there were some numbers. I returned a couple of days later, and my doctor said, “You need to see a specialist.” And I said, “A specialist for what?” The specialist did a biopsy, and he called me back in the office and said, “I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is you have prostate cancer.” After I picked my face up off the floor, he said, “The good news is that we caught it early, and we can take care of it for you.”
It was a shocker to me. I never believed that something like that could happen to me in the first part of my solo career. I am one of those guys that dodged the doctor, I ain’t gonna lie. I don’t like going to the doctor, especially for certain exams. The (DRE – digital rectal exam) is what really, really kept me away from going to the doctor. But it’s kind of senseless to die of shame if you’re scared of getting the exam. All you had to do is just go to the doctor and get a check-up.
There are signs of prostate cancer, but these were signs that I didn’t recognize. I was always working out and drinking a lot of water. I’m drinking a lot of water and spending an hour in the Jacuzzi, so I’m up frequently at night going to the restroom. If you’re going to the restroom frequently at night, that’s one of the signs. I had lower back pain, but I thought that was from doing the leg press (exercise machine) and stuff like that. I thought I had pulled a muscle. I didn’t know that was a sign that something’s going on with your prostate.
It’s now a lifestyle. It’s a one-day-a-time-process. I have to do different things and eat different foods and work out even more. Cancer is a weird deal. It doesn’t care about anybody. It don’t care how old you are, what color you are, how young you are, how old you are – it will take over whenever it wants to and come back whenever it wants to. I have tried to do everything in my power that my doctor has asked me to do. I eat more vegetables and less meat. I eat a lot of cooked tomatoes, cauliflower and mushrooms because these things are good for the prostate. We love our barbecue, but the burned meat – how we eat it all charred up and black – is one of the main causes of prostate cancer. I’m not saying don’t eat it, but don’t overcook it, and don’t char it.
I didn’t ever think that my youngest brother, Robert Wilson, the bass player for The Gap Band, would just fall dead. But he’s gone out of here. I just buried him [this year]. Death doesn’t matter who it gets. You can act like you can’t pass if you want to, but you can go past any graveyard and see all of them stones. I love life, it’s a gift. I’m going to try to preserve it and take care of it the best way I can. We’re not promised tomorrow or the next day. We have to live this day to the fullest, and do it comfortably and correctly and with some pride and joy.
Take care of your body. If you have a woman, then she can make you go to the doctor because I know you ain’t going. I’m asking you brothers to go get a check-up. It’s good to have knowledge if something is wrong with you because you can change your lifestyle. Just go get your check-up, and quit being a wimp. Go get yourself checked out because you’re a big wimp if you don’t find out. And your girl should call you one too.
I have learned from this to face my problems head-on. Whatever it is that’s wrong with me, I’m going to take care of it. I’m going to fight until the fight’s over with. I look at my life the same way. I look at going to the doctor the same way. I look at being treated the same way. I look at the disease the same way. I’m going to continue to do what I’m supposed to do.
Charlie Wilson is a Grammy-nominated singer whose last CD, “Uncle Charlie,” was released in 2009. This article was originally published on BlackAmericaWeb.com.