The Georgia Prostate Cancer license tag should be available soon.
Last year, while some were busy occupying Wall Street and others were cheering the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series victory, nearly a quarter million American men were diagnosed with prostate cancer.
33,720 of them died.
My father was one of them.
In Georgia alone, more than 7-thousand men learned they had prostate cancer in 2011. Line them all up at the Georgia 400 toll booth at the same time, and you've got yourself a nice bumper to bumper traffic jam.
Perhaps it's time our car bumpers are used to reduce those numbers.
For the past three years, the Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition has been raising signatures and money to promote a prostate cancer license tag. The result is House Bill 917, a proposal now awaiting the vote of the state General Assembly. If approved, the motoring public will be able to putter about like Pascual Perez promoting prostate purity from the posterior of their Pinto.
(For those of you who aren't seeped in sports lore, Pascual Perez was a Braves pitcher who got lost trying to find Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in 1982 and spent hours circling the city on I-285. It earned him the nickname "Perimeter" Perez.)
The tag will cost interested parties 35-dollars. The proceeds will go toward cancer research and free prostate screenings for those who lack the insurance to afford it on their own.
Other states have already tagged their vehicles with the blue ribbon of awareness. It's overdue here.
According to the American Cancer Society, the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Georgia was just over 5-thousand in 2009. There were 7,360 new cases last year. I don't find that as bothersome as you might think. My hope is that more people are being diagnosed each year because they're being more vigilant about screening. If the majority of these new cases are cancers caught in the early stages, that's more lives saved.
But there are other, more disturbing numbers.
Georgia is number nine in the country when it comes to prostate cancer deaths. The Red Clay state watched 800 men die from my least favorite disease in 2009. The following year saw 930 deaths. Last year it was 1,080 families that wept over a loved one's casket thanks to prostate cancer.
That's way too many.
Way too many.
Nearly everywhere you look you see the pink of breast cancer. The rampant awareness of that disease and the powerful effort to pour money into research has no doubt saved numerous lives.
It's time to blanket Georgia in prostate blue, from the bogs to the backwaters, from the beaches to the Blue Ridge mountains, from the blueberry patches to the back bumper of a Buick.
We need you to help with research and awareness.
Tag, you're it.