Rickey Jackson and Willie Roaf have many things in common. They both played most of their NFL careers for the New Orleans Saints. They've both been named to the Professional Football Hall of Fame. And they've both had their lives impacted by prostate cancer.
That's why both former players — along with several other Saints legends — are again partnering with Tulane Health System to raise awareness of prostate cancer and provide free PSA screenings to any eligible men. The fourth annual "Man Up! — Geaux Get Screened" prostate screening event will take place on Saturday, September 7, in Tulane Medical Center's main lobby from 9 a.m. to noon.
In addition to the free screening — a quick blood draw that can help determine one's risk of prostate cancer — participants will have the opportunity to meet and have pictures taken with former NFL players (including Saints greats like Jackson, Roaf, quarterback Bobby Hebert and others) and hear Jackson's personal testimony about his prostate cancer diagnosis and recovery.
"We want to kick off the NFL season by doing something that can have a real, positive impact on our community," said Jackson, who noted the event will take place the weekend before the New Orleans Saints play their first game of the season the following Monday night. "The guys I played with know what I faced with my cancer diagnosis, and they were more than willing to help raise awareness and get men to a screening."
The list of legends attending the event is an impressive array of NFL and New Orleans Saints Hall of Famers, Pro Bowlers and fan favorites, including:
- Rickey Jackson: NFL Hall of Famer, Super Bowl champion, Dome Patrol linebacker, prostate cancer survivor
- Willie Roaf: NFL Hall of Famer, seven-time Pro Bowl selection, named to NFL's 1990s and 2000s All-Decade teams
- Bobby Hebert: Led Saints to first two playoff appearances in team history, 1993 Pro Bowl selection
- Pat Swilling: NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Dome patrol linebacker, four-time Pro Bowl selection
- George Rogers: No. 1 overall pick in 1981 NFL Draft, 1980 Heisman Trophy winner
- Dalton Hilliard: New Orleans Saints Hall of Famer, 1998 Pro Bowl selection, LSU standout running back
- Jim Wilks: New Orleans Saints Hall of Famer, 12-year Saints veteran on the defensive line
- Buford Jordan: Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer, set all-time Louisiana rushing record at McNeese State
- Chuck Commiskey: Saints offensive lineman from 1986 - 1988, named to USFL All-League Team in 1984
- Steve Korte: Saints offensive lineman from 1983 - 1990, consensus All-American honors in college
Roaf said the seriousness of prostate cancer hit home for him when his father was diagnosed with the disease.
"We were lucky. He had the surgery and lived another 10 years," Roaf said. "But he didn't really have symptoms. It's silent. Men need to get checked, and they need to know their numbers."
The event will also feature games and prizes for kids, as well as other health information provided by Tulane experts. A free photo booth offers picture opportunities with former players, and a da Vinci robotic surgery system demonstration gives attendees the chance to test their surgical skills. And everyone who receives a PSA screening will be eligible to win memorabilia signed by Jackson, Roaf, Hebert and other former Saints.
"We are excited we can offer men this quick and relatively painless blood test called a PSA to screen for prostate cancer," said Dr. Raju Thomas, a urologist with Tulane Health System. "PSA screening is used to pinpoint patients that may be harboring cancer or other conditions such as an enlarged prostate.
"We were able to screen more than 100 men at least year's event, and we hope to see even more this time."
Last year, the American Cancer Society lowered its recommended age from 50 to 45 for men with no family history of prostate cancer to begin PSA screening. Men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer should begin screening at age 40.
"Everybody knows my number," said Jackson, referencing his famous No. 57 with the Saints. "But do they know their PSA numbers? That's way more important.
"My uncle died from prostate cancer so I know it can take you out. I thought I was perfectly healthy when I found out I had prostate cancer. I didn't play around. I got aggressive — you've got to."
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. According to the American Cancer Society, about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. However, when found early and treated, prostate cancer has a 98 percent 10-year survival rate.
Men and families of all ages are invited to attend the event, but screening space is limited. Eligible men participating in the screening can register online.