Dr. Jeffrey Nix first met Mike Slive the conventional way, as physician and patient.
Now Nix is ensuring that Slive’s vision remains intact as a member of the Mike Slive Foundation board of directors.
“There are very few men who wielded the power and influence Mike had and still remain the same person,” Nix said. “Sometimes, there’s a tradeoff, but there never was with Mike. He could come in and, with his presence, command a room. But he always remained approachable, and he was easy to become friends with.”
Slive, the longtime SEC Commissioner and one of the most powerful forces in college athletics during his tenure, passed away in 2018 from complications due to his lengthy battle with prostate cancer.
Five years later, his mission to fund research for prostate cancer and educate men on how best to fight the disease continues on with a new generation. And, once again, Regions Bank is helping play a role.
Throughout September, Regions is supporting The Mike Slive Foundation’s fight against prostate cancer – and helping save lives by funding innovative research. Through Sept. 30, $1 will be donated to the Mike Slive Foundation for every new qualifying consumer Regions Online or Mobile Banking, Bill Pay, Zelle® and External Transfer transaction.
Nix, the Joe Chamblis endowed professor for prostate cancer reasarch and innovation, and the Director of Robotic Surgery at UAB, said the Mike Slive Foundation is unique because of its founder.
“The Foundation has been pretty remarkable,” Nix said. “Most cancer startups, in terms of research funding, take years before they become well-enough established to start the process of grant funding. Yet the Slive Foundation started grant funding within the first year, which is amazing.”
In addition, Slive’s connection throughout the sports world ensured another facet of his vision – education – would be a factor from the start.
Events like Block Cancer feature 30 college basketball games in 28 cities, providing free cancer screenings and opportunities to learn about combatting the disease. For the past two years at the Regions Tradition, a major event on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule, fans of Hall of Fame golfers also had the chance to get free screenings. In a matter of minutes.
Cure rates are really high when detected early. You want to get screening and detection early so we have options.Jeffrey Nix, member of the Mike Slive Foundation board of directors
The field of prostate cancer research has seen numerous breakthroughs over the last few years. Certainly, research funded by the Mike Slive Foundation and others has played a significant role.
But the best prevention remains the standard: early screening.
“Cure rates are really high when detected early,” Nix said. “You want to get screening and detection early so we have options. But at the same time we need more research for prostate cancer at advanced stages so we don’t have to continue to lose family members like Mike..”
The Mike Slive Foundation also fills a void in an area of the country that has some of the highest incidences of prostate cancer, but also lacks access to screening and treatment.
“When we started, we knew there was a regional void in the Southeast in terms of research,” Nix said. “And there are higher instances of prostate cancer here. But just a few hours from where we are in Birmingham (Alabama), access to healthcare is dramatically different.”
By making screening and treatment more accessible, and by funding research to find a cure, the Mike Slive Foundation is following its founder vision.
“Mike knew this was a big space, with room for improvement,” Nix said. “And, each day, we are seeing improvement and better results.”
But many of the hangups remain entrenched.
Most cancer startups, in terms of research funding, take years before they become well-enough established to start the process of grant funding. Yet the Slive Foundation started grant funding within the first year, which is amazing.
“When you get a cancer diagnosis, it’s hard to get men to talk about it or to feel good about it. Our relationship between sports and men’s health is an obvious way to reach men.
“We’ve seen a myriad of breakthroughs, but the reality is that research takes money. That remains a major focus. So, too, education and screening because cure rates are really high when we diagnose men early.”
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