New Trinity Black men’s health series aims to help everyone breathe easier

Local News

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, killing nearly 160,000 people every year. Black men are disproportionately affected by lung cancer, despite having similar smoking rates as other populations.

UnityPoint Health – Trinity is launching a new educational series, “Take Charge of Your Health,” to provide black men with current and accurate information and resources to help improve their health. The first event topic is “Breathe Easier: Steps to Protect Your Lung Health,” and the virtual event will be held Thursday, Nov. 4, 6 to 7 p.m.

UnityPoint Health — Trinity is starting a new educational series, “Take Charge of Your Health,” to provide black men with current and accurate information and resources to help improve their health.

“It’s important to take the time to invest in your body and health,” Thurgood Brooks of Martin Luther King Center and the event moderator, said in a Wednesday release.

Brooks is encouraging men to sign up for this free event and take the time to find out the steps they can take today to help live a long and healthy life with their friends and family.

“A lot of times, men ignore any sign of pain or weakness because we’re strong,” he said. “Putting off learning about potential risk factors can pack a big punch in the end.”

Thurgood Brooks, 2021 Rock Island Citizen of the Year, will moderate the Nov. 4 virtual event.

Thoracic surgeon Nicholas Yerkes, MD of UnityPoint Clinic – Surgery will speak at the event and share some simple steps people can take starting today to reduce lung cancer risk.

“Black men are disproportionately affected by lung cancer – at least 30% higher than among white men – despite having a similar smoking rate,” Dr. Yerkes said in the release. “What that tells us is we have a lot of work to do to educate the community about the powerful tools in place to help people stop smoking or get routine screenings to identify any issues early on.”

Topics to be discussed include lung disease’s impact on the body, family and friends, prevention strategies and screening options, and steps that everyone can take to be healthy.

“Act now. It takes just one hour to make an active investment in your health, for you and your family,” Brooks said. “It’s easy to sign-on to this event and listen in even if you’re making dinner or just winding down after your workday.”

Brooks was born and raised in Rock Island and serves as a Family Advocate at the Martin Luther King Center. He studied History and Political Science at Western Illinois University, and is the Founder of The Resolution, a multi-racial coalition working to promote racial justice and accountability in the Quad-City area. Brooks was recently named Rock Island Citizen of the Year.

Dr. Yerkes specializes in Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Surgical Oncology at UnityPoint Health – Trinity. He received his training at St. George’s University Medical School where he received his M.D. His residency in Medicine occurred at SUNY Upstate Medical University with Fellowship in Medicine at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is board certified in Surgery from American Board of Surgery and Thoracic Surgery from American Board of Thoracic Surgery.

Registration is now open for the free Nov. 4 event. Learn more at

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