Call for prostate checks at Horace Thorne’s memorial

By Lincoln DePradine

Ken Noel

Age 40, by any measure, is still young. However, the president of The Walnut Foundation (TWF) – an educational and support group for Black men dealing with prostate health issues – is recommending prostate health checks for men by age 40.

“My message to the men is get checked; get your sons to get checked. As soon as they reach the age of 40, start getting them checked,’’ TWF president Ken Noel said last Saturday at a memorial service for the late, well-known Trinidad-born photographer and Ontario community organizer and volunteer, Horace Thorne.

Thorne, a former president of the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Ontario (TTAO), died at home on January 13. He was 85.

Family members were joined at Saturday’s memorial, at Glendale Funeral Home in Etobicoke, by many friends and acquaintances of Thorne, including representatives of TTAO, Peel Multicultural Council (PMC) and the Caribana Arts Group (CAG).

Horrace Thorne

“Mr. Thorne was one of the eminent Caribana photographers of his time,’’ CAG said in a condolence statement. “Our deepest heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to his wife Grace, his family and all who knew him and mourn his passing.’’

Saturday’s speakers, at what was called a “life celebration’’, described Thorne as a “great man’’, who was “very efficient and professional’’ at running the TTAO; as well as a leader that was “organized’’, was “firm, frank and fair’’, and also was “a standup up guy’’.

He was credited with helping the PMC in expanding from a staff of just three to now having 38 fulltime employees, and the recipient of government funding that has increased from $350,000 to $4 million per year.

Noel recalled meeting Thorne on a 2019 cruise to Southeast Asia. “For three weeks he entertained us. He was a lot of fun,’’ said Noel.

Thorne later became a member of TWF and involved himself as a participant and photographer at the foundation’s meetings and annual conferences, Noel disclosed.

“He attended our monthly meetings, which are really educational meetings about prostate cancer. He was very private about his journey,’’ Noel said. “He didn’t share a lot but would show up with his camera and take pictures at our meetings. He also would make notes.’’

Noel said he last spoke with Thorne in October during TWF’s 2022 annual prostate cancer conference.

Thorne, he said, questioned him on why none of the conference presenters was a Black specialist in prostate cancer.

“I reminded him that the Walnut Foundation actually gives scholarships to Black medical students at the University of Toronto. So, he walked away pleased that in the future, we’ll see Black prostate cancer specialists in Toronto,’’ Noel said. “We will miss him.’’

Prostate cancer “affects the Black community more than any other ethnic group. All of the research that we’re doing proves that’’, said Noel.

“Early detection saves lives,’’ he added.  “The earlier you detect prostate cancer the better chance you will live a long life.’’

TWF was founded in 2007 as a charitable, not-for-profit organization. As part of their mandate, members of the foundation seek to increase awareness in the Black community about prostate cancer. They also provide information about diagnosis, treatment and follow-up practices.