By Mrinal Gokhale
For the first time since 2003, the Milwaukee Pentecostal Outreach held a Get Healthy and Live seminar on the morning of Sat, Nov 14, featuring presentations and personal testimonials on Alzheimer’s, breast and prostate cancer, stroke, hypertension and diabetes. The participants played trivia at the end on the information presented, winning gift bags when they answered questions correctly.
Pastor Jerry Reaves and his wife, Venodia Reaves, co-founders of Milwaukee Pentecostal Outreach, guided the seminar at the church’s building at 2401 N. 36 St.
They said the diseases presented are highly prevalent among African-Americans.
“We want to teach people what to do and what not to do to prevent and treat these diseases,” said Mrs. Reaves who is an RN.
“Fear of going to the doctor is especially common among African-American men because they are scared of what they’ll hear.”
Pastor Reaves added, “Some very religious folks assume that if you pray on it, the illness will go, but if you have bad diet and lifestyle habits, you’re going to have to pay for it.”
The speakers included speech pathology masters student Courtney Brasher, Health Unit Coordinator at St. Mary’s Columbia Hospital Eucita Seals, Mrs. Reaves, occupational therapist Annie Whitlock, and administrative assistant Laura Bowen.
Mrs. Reaves spoke on diabetes, bringing out four “actors” who played two teens and a husband and wife.
The “family” sat at a table, all talking on their cell phones requesting more food to be brought to the table on Thanksgiving.
“Nowadays, people don’t communicate at the table,” said Mrs. Reaves.
“Whatever happened to telling your children, ‘Eat what I prepared or go to your room?’”
She then brought out canned foods and junk foods, saying they are all unhealthy and bad for diabetic patients.
“Shop around the peripheral of the grocery store for frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Don’t go in the middle aisles because that’s where all the junk foods and foods with preservatives are.”
The first testimonial was given by Annie Whitlock, an African-American breast cancer survivor.
Whitlock had an aggressive form of the cancer in Dec. 2013, and she considered “just praying about it” until she finally gave into her doctor’s opinion and had surgery.
“Cancer is not a death sentence, but you must see the doctor if you think something is wrong,” she advised. “Ask for multiple opinions if one doctor doesn’t discover the problem.”
Whitlock went on to discuss the importance of diet when it comes to preventing and treating cancer. “Organic, non-GMO foods are the best although they may be hard to afford,” she said.
Next, speech pathologist Courtney Brasher described stroke and signs to watch out for. Contrary to popular belief, she said that stroke impacts the brain, not the heart.
“Stroke happens when blood flow is cut off in the brain’s area,” she said.
“However, heart conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure can increase chance of stroke.”
She went on to say that although stroke is more common among seniors, it can also affect children and young individuals.
She then played a few YouTube videos of stroke survivors speaking, demonstrating how their speech is like “word salad,” that doesn’t make sense.
She added that no one recovers fully from stroke, and many stutter to find the right words when speaking.
Melba Snell then gave a testimonial following, stating that she has experienced seven strokes starting at age 29.
“I exercise up to four hours per day, which really helps,” she said, then handing over the microphone to her brother who helps to care for her.
Her brother went on to say that exercise is important in helping prevent and recover from a stroke, saying that parking far in a lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a simple way to increase activity, along with walking thirty minutes per day.
The last presentation was done on hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, known as a “silent killer.”
High blood pressure is very common among African-Americans, and Mrs. Reaves even offered free blood pressure tests at the end.
“Call 911 if your blood pressure is 180 over 110,” said medical assistant Eucita Seals.
The Milwaukee Pentecostal Outreach is a nonprofit church founded in 2000 and mainly reaches out to inner city communities.
The organization partners with the Pick ‘N Save and Feeding America for weekly food pantries.
“Last week, we gave ham and eggs for Thanksgiving.
There has been a theft reduction in the last year at that Pick ‘N Save ever since we started doing the food pantries, because they’re available to anyone.