“Men, we go to the barbershop together, the bar together, sports games together… but when it comes to something that can save our life, everybody in the room is quiet,” DeMarco Morgan tells PEOPLE
DeMarco Morgan is changing the narrative when it comes to men's routine health screenings.
After celebrating his 45th birthday in November, the GMA3: What You Need to Know co-anchor is documenting his first colonoscopy on the show, hoping to encourage other men to prioritize their health and get tested for colorectal cancer.
Being inspired by stars like Katie Couric — who famously used her nationwide platform to raise awareness of the importance of getting checked by having a colonoscopy on-air on Today — Morgan opened up to PEOPLE about his unique decision to do it alongside two of his childhood friends.
“I think it was a responsibility of mine,” he tells PEOPLE. “I wanted to do it, but I didn't want to do it alone…We can do it as a group and save our lives and possibly save some others.”
Morgan called two of his childhood friends, Alfred Cayasso and Ronnie Stewart, to join him and get their colonoscopies done as a group. He’s hoping to remove the stigma surrounding it and normalize health discussions among men, just as common as “locker room talk.”
“Men, we go to the barbershop together, the bar together, sports games together, bachelor parties together, but we don't go to the doctor together,” he explains. “When it comes to something that can save our life, everybody in the room is quiet. We don't talk about it.”
“Whereas the ladies that I know — because I don't want to generalize — they're like, ‘Girl, we're going to get a mammogram. Oh, I just had one.’ They do stuff together or they talk about issues together. We don't. So why not do something differently?” he continues. “Think about the impact that we could have by people seeing three Black men not just going to get tested, but going to do it together.”
Morgan says it was also great to include his childhood friends who are “more relatable” compared to him, who’s a TV personality, so other men could “see themselves in us.”
He joked that the process of getting a colonoscopy “wasn't a sexy thing to do” — especially the preparation for it — but by doing it together, there was a “sense of community” and they were able to feel more comfortable participating in something that is still a serious matter.
“We literally had each other,” he says. “We were all at some point nervous but the support that we were able to give each other along the way, it helped.”
“Also, a lot of times people think it is a painful procedure. And I think for some reason that message isn't loud and clear that it's not a painful procedure,” the star notes. “You feel nothing before, during, or after.”
Morgan adds that another reason that motivated him to document his colonoscopy was that there is a higher colon cancer and rectal cancer incident rate among African Americans, specifically noting the shocking loss of Chadwick Boseman, who died at 43 after a private four-year battle with the disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer incidence rates in African Americans were about 20 percent higher than those in non-Hispanic whites and 50 percent higher than those in Asians.
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“The Black community, in my experience from growing up, a lot of times we talk about, ‘Oh, I was doing fine until I found out I had this.’ My dad didn't go to the doctor. My mom had to force my dad to go to the doctor. And that was the story for my uncles,” Morgan shares.
“We have to get out of that. We’ve got to find a way to make it cool to go get checked up and make sure you are fine,” he continues, adding that his goal is just to encourage people to get checked. “When you look at the numbers and how it disproportionately affects us, it's alarming. I think when people see people who look like them in powerful positions going to the doctor and saying, ‘It's okay,’ they too will jump in line.”
Morgan admits that he knows how impactful it could be to see three Black men on TV getting their screenings done together, sharing that “one of the greatest things” he experienced was being able to say, “We got it done.”
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