*The threat of cancer has put a stranglehold on African Americans in alarmingly large numbers, according to numerous reports and studies.
Breast cancer is found in more Caucasian women than Black, studies show, but the latter accounts for more annual deaths as a result of the disease than any other race.
Black men are chronic suffers of heart disease among other illnesses, and a slew of medical journals have reported increasing rates of poor health (ie. hypertension, multiple stages of diabetes, obesity, etc.) among African Americans as young as elementary school age. Marvin Gaye III, the son of music’s foremost iconic performers, is battling kidney disease (renal failure) and has been for quite some time.
Although his life’s journey is far from ended, the multi-talented third generation crooner desperately needs a transplant to extend his life and his family’s historic legacy. For several agonizing months, Gaye III and his loved ones have searched far and wide for a healthy match to replace his failing organ (but to no avail). Now, with Marvin’s life hanging in the balance, the alarm is being sounded by those who care for him most, including community leaders, industry pals, and steadfast members of his inner-circle. On a lazily sunny Thursday afternoon, an admirably resolute Gaye and select members of his family (Zeola Gaye, his wife Wendy, and his cousin Derek) gathered for a press conference at the Crowne Plaza (Beverly Hills) to get the public involved. They each followed one another with heart-felt pleas intended for listening ears and willing souls. The outcome, Gaye says, will hopefully be the answer to his prayers–a courageous someone able to provide a compatible, and healthy kidney.
“Marvin experienced renal failure about three years ago,” says his wife, Wendy, “and he has been undergoing dialysis three days a week since.”
Like many other sufferers of cancer, particularly those of color, Marvin’s inability to find a match is two-pronged: first, available, viable organs are damn hard to come by in a country where chronic disease is relentlessly widespread. His battle with diabetes has provided additional setbacks in finding a match. Gaye’s also been advised by doctors to exclude family from his list of potential donors in the event they need working organs (cancer is often hereditary).
To increase awareness and help others facing the effects of renal failure, Gaye plans to announce he will donate part of the proceeds from his upcoming CD to a major kidney health and research organization.
African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers. Death rates for all major causes of death are higher for African Americans than for whites, contributing in part to a lower life expectancy for both African American men and African American women.