Parkland patient recounts how prioritizing his health is prolonging his life

June is National Men’s Health Month

Like many men in the U.S., Billy Massingill didn’t spend much time thinking about his health and never visited the doctor’s office. But all that changed 7 years ago when he needed to pass a physical to stay on the job.

The 65-year-old South Dallas resident and patient at Parkland Health’s Hatcher Station Health Center learned the importance of preventive healthcare firsthand when some concerning heart issues were detected during a mandatory physical for his employment.

“It all started because my blood pressure was shooting up and I couldn’t pass a physical,” Massingill recounted. “When I started going to Parkland for my hypertension, I learned that my knee and back pain was also a problem.”

June is National Men’s Health Month, and Parkland physician Barry-Lewis Harris II, MD urges men to pay attention and listen to their bodies. According to the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, women are more likely to obtain healthcare services than their male counterparts, which is why healthcare professionals are encouraging more men to get screened.

“Men should play an active role in their overall healthcare including scheduling annual checkups,” said Dr. Harris. “Regular check-ups and screenings can help detect chronic illnesses. Your healthcare provider can work with you to set goals like quitting smoking, improving your diet and exercise or managing blood pressure.”

Dr. Harris warns that everyday aches and pains could be signs of a more serious issue. These symptoms include but are not limited to:

Chest pain – one of the symptoms of a heart attack but can also indicate other problems such as angina, pneumonia, blood clot in your lungs or asthma.

Shortness of breath – could signal heart disease, lung disease or other serious diseases.

Fatigue – can result from physical activity, lack of sleep or stress but it can also mean a more serious physical health condition.

Blood in urine – may be a sign of bladder, prostate or kidney problems.

Excessive thirst – can be a prominent symptom of diabetes.

Vision problems – are not always related to aging; they may indicate further problems.

Education played a big role in Massingill’s journey to better health. He attended Parkland community events and received information and guidance from his providers along the way. He shares his experiences with his relatives, particularly the men in his family, hoping to inspire them to prioritize their health.

“Diabetes runs in our family. My mom died from it, my sister is diabetic, my other sister has type 2 just like me,” Massingill explained. “I tell my brother and son all the time to take care of themselves, especially when it comes to their diet and making healthier choices. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you have no choice but to see a doctor.”

Massingill, who has been a driver for Dallas Area Rapid Transit for more than two decades, said he often tells his son, a truck driver, to put his health first. “I always emphasize that health is not a guessing game and that options for pain management exist,” he said.

Since he began listening to his body, Massingill’s heart health has improved with proper medication, diet and exercise. He now enjoys walking and bike rides thanks to the care he has received from his Parkland providers.

“The doctors tell me, ‘Hey, keep doing what you’re doing,’ Massingill shared with pride. “It’s prolonging my lifespan because my health is something that I can control.”

Parkland’s Access to Care and Coverage Program is another option for men to receive healthcare services and financial assistance in neighborhoods where they live and work. Screenings such as blood pressure and blood sugar checks are provided at no cost. Appointments are not needed and visits take about 20 minutes. To find a screening location in your neighborhood, please visit



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