IMPD agent raises awareness of prostate cancer

INDIANAPOLIS — “We’re all Type A. We’re problem solvers. Right? You come to us for help, but where do we go,” said Brett Seach, a retired officer with the department Indianapolis Metropolitan Police.

An IMPD agent is on a mission to educate law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve across the country about prostate cancer.

His personal experience inspired him to start a conversation about the disease. He learned how many of his fellow officers had gone through the same thing.

WISP Eastern District Officer Deon Harris, 38, received a call that changed his life forever.

“I was just coming home from court, getting ready for a trip the next day. I pulled into my driveway. I saw the doctor’s office calling me, so I answered the phone,” Harris said. “I had no idea, because everything I’ve heard since I was going to the doctor, oh you’re too young for prostate cancer,”

“I did a biopsy and they found 80% of my prostate was full of prostate cancer,” Harris said.

Two months after his diagnosis, on December 4, 2014, he had his prostate removed.

“There was nothing in place for me to deal with what I was going through. Doing my day job answering errands and still dealing with all the issues I had inside and dealing with cancer. There was no support in place for me,” Harris said.

Still in shock and struggling with lingering emotions, he returned to work and learned he wasn’t the only one battling prostate cancer.

“I hear I have cancer. I think, I’m going to die. I think, I have a year left in the department and I have cancer. My daughter is 19, will I be able to l ‘walk down the aisle,’ Wyonne Hale, an IMPD detective, said.

“Prostate cancer is ageless. It affects young and old alike,” said Edward Gurnell, a retired IMPD officer.

“Nobody talks about it. The men don’t talk about it. The firefighter has a high cancer count, the first responders and the police. So I guess I’d at least let people know I had it, “Seach said.

Harris said the more officers who showed up, the more they realized something had to change. They formed the outreach organization, Blue vs. Blue.

“As many as 200,000 men across our country are diagnosed each year. One in nine are African American men,” Harris said.

Healthcare can be a tough subject for men, but doctors say early detection is key and can mean the difference between life and death.

June is Men’s Health Month and Blue vs. Blue has raised awareness and reached officers in Circle City, Avon and even Illinois.

“If we could save a life, that’s important. Very important,” Hale said.

“I didn’t understand. I was upset and depressed, I kept asking God, what did I do? I can say now, I wouldn’t change it because I can say, what I’ve been through, I’m now able to help save others,” Harris said.

“Blue vs. Blue” was formed just a few months ago.

On Thursday, June 23, Harris plans to meet with local doctors who want to help them with their mission.


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