NORFOLK,Va. (WAVY)- A film created by Hampton Roads natives is hoping to raise awareness about prostate cancer within the Black community.
“The Black Walnut” recently won a Telly Award for Non-Broadcast General-Health and Wellness.
Writer and producer Terrance Afer-Anderson says he was estatic to find out.
“It’s a film about the African American prostate cancer disparity,” he said. “African American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and die from prostate cancer at a wholly disproportional rate.”
Afer-Anderson, who is also a playwright, has experience working in the health care system and says he was an advocate for prostate cancer awareness for years before filming.
“Being a playwright and a writer, I thought I would do something novel and different to get people to pay attention,” he said.
So, he teamed up with producer Greg Boyd, who also edited and filmed “The Black Walnut.”
The story follows a fictional character to tell a more complete story of the prostate cancer experience. However, Afer-Anderson says others in the film were also using their own experience.
“[There are] nine actual prostate cancer survivors who tell their own stories and their context,” he said.
It’s a story that’s all too familiar to Afer-Anderson. He says he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 through early detection screenings.
Because of the diagnosis, his two brothers were also screened. Afer-Anderson says his eldest brother found out that he also had cancer.
But due to early detection, Afer-Anderson says he didn’t worry about what the outcome would be.
“The Lord revealed to me, because it was my faith in Him, I was doing what I needed to be doing. But, I heard that word and reaffirmation. Because I had that good experience, I wanted to increase awareness of being screened and African-American men are not being screened the way they need to for prostate cancer,” he said.
Afer-Anderson was able to encourage some men to get screenings. He says those on set who were not prostate cancer survivors went out and got their screenings done.
He hopes others in the community will take advantage of it too, and says women can also help to get people screened.
“The role that women play in men’s lives — husbands, fathers, brothers, loved ones — it’s very important. Women can get a man to do what they need to do when it comes to their health care,” he said.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Afer-Anderson says they were planning to hold screenings of the film.
Now, they’ve received a $50,000 grant to work with health events to hold screenings throughout Hampton Roads and the Washington, D.C. area, according to Afer-Anderson.
“I hope that men are motivated to get screened,” he said.
He’s also working on releasing a film about the restoration of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk and the historic findings found during that project.