Clive A. Phinn stays on top of health with regular checkups, a balanced diet

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Clive A. Phinn, whose career is in the financial services industry, lives out his passion for music by DJing, playing the keyboard, and writing, recording and producing songs for gospel choirs and R&B artists.

He has served as a church music director and played with award-winning groups, like Kindred and the Family Soul, Infinite Soul and other local artists.

And since recovering from Hodgkin lymphoma nearly 30 years ago, he lives out his other passion: encouraging young people – especially young Black men — to get regular checkups and to speak up if they suspect a health issue.

Phinn could never have dreamed he had cancer when, at age 28, he felt a sudden and excruciating pain while playing basketball with his buddies.

“I remember when I went up to make a layup, I came down and there was a big, sharp pain all the way up my leg, up to my stomach,” said Phinn, now 57 and an insurance company executive.

He initially thought that he had a cramp in his right leg, but the pain was unrelenting.

“I could hardly walk up the stairs,” Phinn said. “I had a manual transmission car. I couldn’t drive my car. One of my buddies drove my car and another followed me home.”

Hospital X-rays showed a growth about the size of a golf ball inside Phinn’s lower abdomen — and the growth tested positive for cancer.

Phinn went through four rounds of chemo treatments, which caused hair loss and made him feel sicker and lousier after each one.

“At the time, I didn’t know of anyone in my family with a cancerous situation,” he said. “The only thing that ran in my family was high blood pressure.”

“I had one daughter at the time,” Phinn said. “I was scared and all I wanted to do was to live to one day walk her down the aisle.”

His faith and his family continue to serve as his inspiration.

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Phinn realized that his relatives who stayed in Jamaica lived long, healthy lives, some gracefully aging into their 90s and even into their 100s.

Phinn had left Jamaica with his family, who moved to north suburban Evanston when he was 8 years old.

Being new to the United States, he had to learn “American” English, but he also made lifelong friends along the way.

He was able to learn to play the piano by ear and took formal lessons. He earned a music scholarship to Augustana College, where he attained a bachelor’s degree in business and a minor in music.

Phinn is now focused on returning to the fresh, non-processed foods of his youth.

“In Jamaica, we had orange, tangerine, grapefruit and banana trees in our backyard,” he said. “We had cows, pigs and chickens. If we didn’t go to the market, we prepared our food naturally.”

“So now, I make a smoothie every morning,” Phinn said. “I eat a lot of fruit — mangos, bananas, pineapples — during the day. I try to stay away from sweets. I just try to go natural. I try not to eat red meat, but I eat fish and chicken. I’m graduating more towards turkey and away from chicken. Next, my goal is to focus on primarily seafood, veggies and fruit.”

Phinn also stays on top of his health by getting a checkup every six months. He urges others to get regular check- ups, take nothing for granted, get tested for any diseases or illnesses that run in your family and find a doctor who will take you seriously.

“We think it’s just an ache or pain,” he said. “But when an ache or pain becomes lingering, it’s time you need to go to the doctor and see what’s going on.”

“Only you know,” he said. “If you don’t feel right, the doctor should be an advocate for you.”

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