Each weekend I've been doing a Community Spotlight, featuring a special person or business that I want to highlight. Last week's Spotlight was in honor of a man, and now a legacy, Caesar Blevins. Caesar passed away earlier last week (April 7, 2021) after a long battle with prostate cancer.
I first met Caesar in November 2019. I had heard about a group called The Prostate Network which helped cancer survivors. I wanted to learn more about it, so I just randomly showed up one time. I didn't know what to expect, and I wasn't really sure how much I'd be welcome in this all-male group. What I experienced that evening just blew me away. I'd never seen anything like it. Here were men helping other men walk a very difficult journey. Each person there had a chance to talk, share, ask questions. The last person to speak was this guy named Caesar. He talked for quite awhile. (It was obvious that he was quite a talker!) As I listened, I heard his story unfold, and saw how he used that story to give counsel, support, and comfort to guys who were grappling with the reality of cancer in their lives. I decided to join in the cause to help prostate cancer survivors in my own unique way.
I didn’t know Caesar for long and I didn’t get to spend much time with him. But I’ll tell you this--he was one special guy. I considered him a friend, a mentor, and a brother in Christ. And he sure left a legacy. A legacy of advocating and fighting for more funding for research, better access to screenings, and narrowing the gap of racial disparity in prostate cancer care for black men. He was a positive influence in his neighborhood, within the prostate cancer community in Kansas City and beyond, and among the legislators in Washington D.C.
He left a legacy of unwavering faith and trust in God. I think that God gifted that man with a double portion of encouragement and optimism! Not the fake kind, or just a positive-thinking attitude. This was truly the essence of his being. One way he expressed that was in his Facebook posts. He would post something every day. Every. Day. Whether he was at work, at the gym, or in a hospital bed. As long as he was able, he would write words of encouragement to others. During the uncertain times of COVID and the terrible racial unrest that shook our country, I would always look forward to reading Caesar's posts. They were hopeful and yet thought-provoking. He could get his point across without using words of anger, judgement, or bitterness. And I think his message had more impact that way.
He left a legacy of gentleness with strength. Or strength with gentleness. I never heard him yell at someone or insult them publicly. When a new guy came to the Prostate Network meetings, Caesar would ask them to tell their story. No matter how long it took. He provided a safe place for them to talk, ask questions, process stuff. He also had a gift for discernment. If someone would raise objections that were a smokescreen, give excuses, or just complain for the sake of complaining, he would call them out! Caesar was not one to tolerate any bullshit!
He also left the legacy of "Warrior On". And warrior on he did, until his last breath.
What comes to mind when you think of someone with Stage 4 cancer? Caesar was Stage 4 for nearly 10 years I think. 10 years--I can’t even imagine! I've learned about the physical effects of cancer in the body, but I didn't hear about its day-to-day impact on someone's life. Caesar's story gave me a greater level of understanding about this disease, and how terrible it can be. It's not "the good kind of cancer", it's not always slow-growing, it can totally ravish one's body. THAT is the reality of prostate cancer for many men. Those ugly facts sometimes get glossed over. Yet Caesar never let that reality destroy his spirit. He always had an encouraging word, was always lifting others up, and kept his mind and his body as active as he could.
And that is a big reason why I'm doing this. Why I've joined the fight to get these guys the rehab that they deserve but are not getting after their surgery, radiation or chemo treatments.
Caesar Blevins touched so many lives as a result of his prostate cancer. There’s a whole community here in Kansas City, and throughout the nation, who will continue his legacy. Doing all they can--all WE can--to stamp out prostate cancer, and to walk alongside those men who now live with this disease.
Caesar wanted to make sure that no man walked this journey alone! Let's keep his legacy going. This is dedicated to you, Big C.
How incredibly and terribly ironic, the timing of this. I've taken several months of "sabbatical" from writing to focus on other areas, but now it's time to get back in the saddle. I'm ready, and I have a new purpose for this.
The last article I wrote was guest-authored by the founders of the Prostate Network. At the time it was Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Little did I know that just 6 months later, one of them would no longer be with us. Caesar Blevins passed away on April 7, 2021. I was fortunate to have one last (very socially-distanced) visit with him just 2 days before he died.
Caesar's death affected a lot of people. He would want us to carry on his legacy. A week ago it became very clear to me what my role was in that. It rekindled a spark that had been lying dormant for over a year. I like to write, and I have something very important to write about. And I'm inviting you to join me on its journey to completion. I'm dedicating this project to Caesar Blevins and the work he did for prostate cancer survivors.
The first part of this started as a Facebook post the week that Caesar passed away. I have more to say, and I'll use this blog to continue the story. Follow along with me as the story unfolds....
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