My name is Ifeoma Nembhardt and I founded Prostate Cancer: Black Men (PCBM) alongside my brother, Emeka Ojimba and sister, Ngozi Ojimba.
On May 11th 2020, our father died from complications of prostate cancer. He was 69 years old. When he was diagnosed in late 2017, it was already too late and he was informed that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, was extremely aggressive (Gleason scored 10), and was incurable. He had been feeling generally unwell since about 2016, but even though he was regularly going to the doctors at that point, he was not sent for a PSA test until late 2017.
He fought bravely to keep the cancer at bay. We are incredibly proud of him. However, due to other complications (proctitis as a result of radiation, developing a fistula, further spreading of the cancer and eventually succumbing to an infection/sepsis during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic), he survived just under 3 years from his diagnosis.
During our journey, we discovered there was a problem with awareness in the black community. Not many people knew that black men had a 1 in 4 chance of getting prostate cancer (double that of caucasian men, having a 1 in 8 chance) or that this was further increased by family history (a father or brother having prostate cancer, or a mother or sister having breast cancer). We found that there was limited knowledge and a lack of open conversation. It’s so important that as a black community we talk more about our illnesses and share. Our worry is this lack of open discussion about cancer and illnesses within our community will continue causing unnecessary deaths if there is not a drive for education and awareness, not just targeted at older black men, but the younger generation too.
I decided to start PCBM to help with this. We would like to do what we can to stop other families going through what we are now going through. People sometimes think it’s odd that a woman started PCBM, but I feel that we, as women, are in a strong position to help and encourage the men in our lives. Whether they are our fathers, brothers, partners, sons or friends, we can provide that push that’s often needed to encourage a trip to the doctor to get tested which could ultimately save their lives. We're targeting not just men, but their families too. The more people that are aware of the risks and signs, the better chance we have of changing the '1 in 4 black men' statistic.
Our aim is to:
Share information to raise knowledge in men before they are diagnosed with prostate cancer
Share information around healthy living to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.