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Local barber urges colon cancer awareness

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Local barber urges colon cancer awareness

Profile Barber Institute founder Rodrick Samuels of Summerville went to Washington, D.C., last month to advocate for colon cancer awareness. He spoke with U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., about a bill that makes colon cancer preventive care more accessible.

Summerville native Rodrick Samuels doesn’t want to just shape your hair — he wants to help shape your life.

The Profile Barber Institute founder has been a master barber for 16 years and has been working with the University of South Carolina Center for Colon Cancer Research and Fight Colorectal Cancer since 2008.

Samuels has developed a national program called the Shop Talk Movement to help train barbers and stylists to speak to their clients about getting screened for colon cancer. They have trained 3,000 people to date and plan on training even more at the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show this summer in Atlanta.

He said many people are not comfortable with talking about colon cancer, but Shop Talk “softens the message” to make it an easy topic for barbers and stylist to talk about. He said that once they bring it up, most clients are receptive.

“Because of the relationship barbers have with their clients, they’re normally open to talking about anything,” he said.

Samuels said the biggest misconception about getting a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer is that it’s painful. But he lets his clients know that you are put to sleep during the procedure and do not even feel it.

Samuels said he was contacted by USC to help expand grass-roots efforts to spread awareness of colon cancer prevention to African-Americans.

“What better way to spread that message than to talk to them in the chair when you have their attention,” Samuels said.

He also has a personal attachment to the cause because his mother died from cancer five years ago.

Last month, Samuels traveled to New York City to speak at the Fight Colorectal Cancer’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month kickoff. He also spoke to Congress in Washington about colon cancer awareness for Fight Colorectal Cancer’s seventh annual Call on Congress. His speech, “The Power of One,” detailed how even one person can make an impact on the cause.

“It’s up to individuals to take on that responsibility to spread information about a disease that’s killing people,” he said.

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Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or

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