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Raising awareness of prostate cancer in the BME community

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Egbert Bonner Egbert, Karen Bonner's dad, inspired her to raise awareness of the disease among BME men

My dad, Egbert, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2010. While he remained relatively relaxed about his diagnosis, I found the situation a lot harder to deal with. I struggled with the conflict of being both his daughter and a nurse. As a nurse, I wanted to make sure my dad was receiving the right treatment and the best possible care. But as his daughter, I was devastated at the thought of losing him.

Four years after his diagnosis, dad lost his fight with prostate cancer. He was an amazing man and I made sure he died with the dignity he deserved.

I’ve always taken pride in being a good nurse – one who treats people with kindness, compassion and empathy. But losing my dad helped make me a better one. Shortly after he died, I went to see a patient who was very unwell. As I spoke to his family, for the first time, I could see myself in their faces. I couldn’t just empathise with the pain they were feeling – I’d lived it. Although dealing with death has always been part of my job, I now truly understand what people go through when they lose someone they love.

To read more about prostate cancer, click here

As a black man in his seventies, dad was at high risk of prostate cancer. In fact, one in four black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, twice the one in eight risk faced by other men. But we still don’t know why this is.

The PROFILE study is the first of its kind in the UK to look at the genes of men of African and Caribbean descent to help answer this important question. The researchers hope it will help identify men at higher risk of prostate cancer and lead to better tests and treatments that could one day save the lives of men like my dad.

I’m incredibly proud to be a nurse and the work that we do. That’s why I’m passionate about raising awareness of prostate cancer, not just among friends and family but my nursing colleagues too. We can make a real difference by speaking to men about their risk. Men who are over 50, black or have a family history of the disease are all at higher risk of prostate cancer, but many have no idea – especially if they don’t have symptoms. A simple conversation could save their life.

Karen Bonner is Chief Nurse at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Prostate Cancer UK’s 30 second online risk checker to help men understand their risk is available online at prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck

To find out more about the PROFILE study and how to get involved, visit prostatecanceruk.org/riskresearch


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