A Crucial Catch Yields Lifelong Lesson
November 01, 2023
Knowing African American men are at higher risk for prostate cancer, Mandel Childs started screening in his 30s for the disease. The decision likely saved the life of this high school teacher, who wants to share the lessons he learned.
The Lutheran East High School teacher of health and African American history was honored at the Cleveland Browns Crucial Catch game on October 1, 2023 for his efforts to emphasize the value of early cancer screenings. Understanding that many African Americans forgo regular doctor visits, he shares his story to inspire change.
“I started getting the PSA tests when I was relatively young because I knew African American men were at a higher risk for prostate cancer,” says Mandel, who is now in his mid-50s. “And I wanted to set an example for the young men I teach, my male colleagues and friends.”
According to the American Cancer Society, Black men are disproportionately affected by prostate cancer, with earlier presentation, more aggressive disease and higher mortality rates when compared to white men. A typical PSA level is under 4 ng/mL. If it exceeds 10, the chance of having prostate cancer is more than 50 percent.
When Mandel’s PSA levels rose from 2 ng/mL to 5, his primary care physician, Roxana Stanescu, MD, advised a biopsy, which found a minor presence of cancer cells. UH Cleveland Medical Center urologist Jonathan Shoag, MD, recommended ongoing monitoring of Mandel’s PSA level. Within a year, it had reached 10.
After finding out his cancer wasn’t aggressive, Mandel chose radiation therapy. Radiation oncologist Angela Jia, MD, PhD, administered five radiation treatments over two weeks.
“I didn’t experience any discomfort or side effects,” says Mandel, who had a solid support network that included his wife, Loretta, five adult children and many close friends. “I would go to the main campus for radiation therapy during the school day and return in time to coach basketball in the afternoon.”
When he returned for a follow-up PSA test six months after concluding treatment, Mandel’s PSA level had dropped from 10 to 2.5.
Mandel was pleased to promote early screenings during the Cleveland Browns’ Crucial Catch, an NFL partnership with the American Cancer Society. The campaign raises funds for research and highlights cancer’s significant impact on underserved communities.
“Cancer affects not just individuals but families and communities, Mandel says. “Funding research is vital and gives us the knowledge to make informed decisions.”