Music man shares song of survival -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Music man shares song of survival

June 9, 2006 

Albany-- The state of Georgia gets a grade of B when it comes dealing with prostate cancer. That's better than most states but health advocates say there's still work to do.

The National Prostate Cancer Coalition graded states based on screening rates, mortality rates and laws to guarantee insurance coverage for testing. Only four states received an A. Southwest Georgia health advocates say rural states are at the bottom of the list when it comes to economics and educating people.

They say poverty can cause men to be at a high risk for cancer in general.  

"The indicators of poverty which can lead to lack of information and lack of access to the system I think are the major reasons why Georgia's not getting an A. I think we're getting a B and moving towards a B-plus," says Darrell Sabbs of Phoebe.

Sabbs says there has been an increase in testing in our area but more education is needed. Five states including Alabama and Mississippi got failing grades. This year, more than 234,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. More than 27,000 will die from the disease.  Testing helped to keep one man's dream alive.

Piano keys serve as the key to life for Dr. T. Marshall Jones. "It's a joy. It's a pleasure. I think it's what God ordained me to do," says Jones. You not only hear his ordained passion for music through his fingers.  You can also see it in his eyes, a vision that started early.

"I guess I've been playing music since I was five years old," says Jones. But in January of 2003, that music almost came to an end. "You never actually realize that it would happen to you," says Jones.

Jones was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a shock.  But his surprise quickly turned to spiritual strength right there in the doctor's office. "I said you gentlemen are well qualified. Your reputations preceded you but I have a chief physician so I folded my hands and looked heavenly and they laughed and said yes, we believe in the chief physician too," says Jones.

It worked.   After painful biopsies and 8 weeks of radiation therapy, this music man was totally free of cancer. "I sit here as an example and as a witness to the fact that I was able to survive it," says Jones.

And now he wants to use his survival story to help others.  He hopes his message is much louder than his music. "Don't be hesitant. Don't think that you're such a macho man that something can't happen to you because while you're trying to be the macho man, whatever that is is taking hold of your body," says Jones.

He credits early detection as one reason he's still here. "And I think with a heavy dose of prayer because I'm a prayerful person and I have a great faith," says Jones.

Faith kept his fingers on these keys long enough to share his song of survival. "If it saves one life, then its well worth it," says Jones.

Most songs have a beginning and an end but this one will keep going strong.  And it's strong enough to inspire others.

Men have a 17 percent chance of getting prostate cancer. The risk is higher for African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer. Next to lung cancer, it's the second leading cause of cancer death for men.

Phoebe will offer free prostate health screenings along with cholesterol, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and blood pressure screenings next weekend.   A men's health conference will be held in the Phoebe Healthworks building from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 17th. 


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