Black men twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer
Egbert Bonner, aged 71 at the time, had previously suffered from prostate problems in his 60s, including an inflammation of the prostate and underwent a procedure (transurethral resection) to help with this.
He had a prostate examination and a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test and the results came back alarmingly high at 500.
Egbert was told he had aggressive prostate cancer which had spread to his pelvis and was given a prognosis of a few years.
His daughter Karen Bonner, a 53-year-old nurse, said: “When my dad first heard the news about his diagnosis he wasn’t surprised as deep down he knew and was quite relaxed about the situation. He was aware that as a black man and a man in his 70s, he had an increased risk of getting prostate cancer.
“At the time, I had just got married and when I got back from my honeymoon, that’s when my dad told me the news. I was a bit disappointed he didn’t tell me sooner, but my dad was a very selfless man and didn’t want the news to impact me.”
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Karen found dealing with her dad’s diagnosis difficult at times as she struggled between being a daughter and a nurse.
She said: “For me, as a nurse, I wanted to make sure that my dad was getting the right treatment and care, but as his daughter, I was devastated. When my dad broke the news to my siblings, they were very upset that he only had a matter of time. We were all distraught at the thought of losing our dad.”
Egbert immediately went on hormone therapy, which he stayed on for the rest of his life.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t a suitable candidate for further treatment. He suffered from side effects of the hormone therapy, including weight gain and hot flushes, but maintained an active life.
He was only hospitalised until the last five weeks of his life and sadly passed away on June 27, 2014 in hospital.
Karen said: “My dad was an amazing man and I made sure that he died with the dignity he deserved’.”
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Seeing her dad go through prostate cancer has changed Karen’s outlook on life.
She said: “For me as a nurse, seeing people pass away is a part of my job and I have always treated everyone with empathy and kindness. However, I feel that my dad’s passing has helped me to be a better nurse, as after losing him to prostate cancer, I now truly understand what people go through when they lose someone close to them.”
Karen wanted to do something for others in her dad’s memory and so does as much as she can to help raise awareness of prostate cancer, especially in the black community. She said: “When my dad passed away, I wanted to take the opportunity to raise awareness of prostate cancer. At his funeral, we asked for donations to Prostate Cancer UK instead of flowers and I gave everyone a Man of Men badge and literature on prostate cancer.
“I have told all my male friends about the disease and have spoken to my brother, who is 56, about his increased risk. My whole family is committed to raising awareness of prostate cancer and we want to do what we can to help save men’s lives.”
Karen regularly attends Prostate Cancer UK’s events including the charity’s Carols by Candlelight concert and uses her medical knowledge to contribute to the ‘Black Men’s Advisory Group’ who developed the black men’s Consensus statement.
She has also attended Prostate Cancer UK’s London March for Men event in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022 – and will be walking again at Battersea Park this weekend (July 23).
She said: “Prostate Cancer UK’s March for Men was a great experience for me and I can’t wait to take part again. The day was very moving, and I found so much comfort in meeting other people who had also been affected by prostate cancer. I was able to share my story with the marchers in 2022 and thank them all for what they were doing to raise awareness and money to reduce the loss of our men to this disease.
“My message to anyone thinking about taking part this year is go out and march in memory of someone that matters to you. The walk gave me a chance to reflect on my dad’s life and I recommend giving yourself time to think about your loved ones and do something to help save men’s lives. Since my dad’s death I am now committed to raising awareness of the disease particularly in the black community, as black men have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer.
“I hope that the money raised from March for Men goes towards developing a sophisticated screening programme so that we can accurately diagnose prostate cancer and stop men dying needlessly from this disease.”
Karen’s parting message for anyone who may be at risk of prostate cancer is: “If you think you may be at risk or in doubt use the 30 second Prostate cancer online risk checker which is available on the Prostate Cancer UK website.
“Detecting prostate cancer early can reduce the long term impact of the disease and reduce untimely deaths and loss of our men from the disease. Please do not suffer or die because of fear or ignorance, get yourself checked. It is the brave thing to do for yourself and your loved ones.”
Prostate Cancer UK’s March is a charity walking event that unites people across the UK to celebrate the lives of those affected by prostate cancer and to remember those who have been lost to the disease.
It is taking place at Battersea Park this Sunday, July 23, with Karen joining Hollywood actor Colin McFarlane, himself diagnosed with the disease, at the event.
Those joining Karen and Colin in the March for Men can walk 2km, 5km or 10km around the park. The event village opens at 11am and the walk starts at midday. You can sign up at prostatecanceruk.org/marchmen.
Also, you can find out if you have a higher risk of prostate cancer – and what you can do about it – by using Prostate Cancer UK’s 30-second online risk checker at prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck.
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