“At 70 years old, I want to tell society that you don’t have to have 1 foot in the grave, because you’re old,” said Byron Hudson as he sat in a newly opened sports bar in downtown Oakland. Hudson doesn’t drink, nor smoke; as you would expect from a professional trainer. To Hudson, maintaining a healthy body is more than just a hobby and profession, it is a life long fight.
“When I was two, my biological father threw me out of a window,” said Hudson, who fell two stories into some bushes and survived. “There was a story in a SF newspaper: Baby Survives Fall was the headline.”
Hudson, whose mother’s family is from the South, spent time in New Orleans as a child, but credits West Oakland as his old stomping grounds.
“I got dealt a bad hand at birth: my mom died of cancer at 67 years old. My biological father died of cancer 58 years old, he had Colon and Prostate cancer.”
Hudson has been into bodybuilding since walking into McClymonds High School as a scrawny freshman; but his healthy lifestyle didn’t stop him from being impacted by hereditary diseases.
“I’ve got a bad heart, I’ve had a stroke before, I have all the things that affect Black people.” Said Hudson, a 5’6, 200 plus pound- boulder of a man. “Diabetes, heart issues, high blood pressure. I used to joke and say: I have everything but cancer.”
Hudson is one of the many Black men in America who have Prostate Cancer.
“Most people my age, if they’re not in great shape, what they’d do is observe, or they’d treat it with radiation.”
Hudson, a high ranking bodybuilder in the Mr. Oakland, Mr. California, and Mr. Pacific contests during the 1960’s and early 70’s, says that doctors say that he is in great shape for his age and this works to his benefit in combating cancer.
Hudson plans to have his prostate removed.
“Not many options when you have cancer—especially prostate: radiation, radiation inserts (pellets in your prostate), you can remove it (robotic surgery), or you can observe it (allow it to run its course).”
Hudson says that in the coming months he will be, “like a little boy again— I’ll be wearing a diaper for 6 weeks to 3 months.” He is upbeat about the recovery process. He plans to combine the Western practice of surgery with Eastern remedies, such as herbs and teas, in effort to get back on his feet as soon as possible.
“My goal is to be a spokesperson for cancer,” said Hudson.
He wants to speak to people about the diseases that are affecting many African Americans: Diabetes, Prostate Cancer, Colon Cancer and overall heart problems.
“Those are the things that will wipe us out quicker than anything—depending on where you live,” Hudson said with hesitation, a pause to consider the gun violence that also plagues African American communities Nationwide, perhaps.
As he scanned the miscellaneous individuals enjoying drinks and watching sports in the dimly lit bar, Hudson leaned in and said, “cancer creeps up on you—but we creep up on ourselves; we’re like our own cancer.”
With a half-faced-smile that forced his right eye to squint, Hudson nonchalantly said, “I have more years behind me than I have in front of me, I know I’m not living 70 more years. Unless God has something really special planned for me.”
Hudson followed up by saying, “I’m going to rid myself of cancer. I plan on being here.”
When asked what wisdom he might tell a young man, given his life experiences, Hudson said:
“If you don’t do all the right things in life that you should have, just try to outgrow some of the things you were doing that you shouldn’t have.”