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Black Men – Don’t Wait to Get Checked for Prostate Cancer

Delroy Wright

Former TFTC patient Delroy Wright joins OnFocus to discuss his experience with prostate cancer, and to suggest some actions to both men and their doctors about testing and treatment.


 

Clare Delmar

Hello and welcome to On Focus brought to you by The Focal Therapy Clinic, where we connect you with issues facing men diagnosed with prostate cancer that are little known, less understood, often avoided or even ignored. Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, and with this somber fact becomes a multitude of challenges and opportunities. I’m Clare Delmar. Joining me today is Delroy Wright, a former HIFU patient of Focal Therapy Clinic consultant urologist, Raj Nigam. Del had an early stage diagnosis three years ago and spent over a year on active surveillance before he was treated with HIFU, which he learnt about through his own persistence in seeking and pursuing alternative treatment. He says, “I believe there is not enough information out there about it, especially for black guys. If we didn’t look into these alternative treatments ourselves, we wouldn’t know anything about it. It should be on the side of buses.” Del joins me today to discuss his experience and the experience of men in the black community with prostate cancer. Del, hello and thank you so much for joining me today.

Delroy Wright
Hi, how are you doing, Clare?

Clare Delmar
I’m great. It’s really lovely to chat to you. So let’s start from the very beginning. When were you diagnosed with prostate cancer and what happened next?

Delroy Wright
Right. In 2019. I’ve got close friends of mine who said, you know what? We’re all getting a little bit older, so we should all go for a test. But I had no symptoms at the time. I thought, let’s go and go for a test. So I rang up my doctor and I said to him, you know, is it possible for me to have a prostate check. He says, well I was kind of young to be having it, but he says, well, yeah, we’ll go with it.

Clare Delmar
And how old were you? How old were you at the time, Del?

Delroy Wright
I was 56 at the time. He asked me if I had any symptoms. I said I’ve got no symptoms, I’m sleeping well, I go to the gym and stuff. And he says, well, we’ll have to go up into your passage. I said, well, you know, I said, well, nah, you can’t really do that, because being a black guy, you know, we don’t really have anybody just go up into your passage just like that. So I asked him if there’s a lady doctor on site that can do it, and he said, yeah, and he laughed because he knew, you know, because I’ve got an Indian doctor, he said he knew how black guys were regarding just going up the passage. So it wasn’t a problem getting one of the lay doctors to do a test. But even that test when she did it didn’t show up nothing. But at the same time, they said I should go and get a PSA test, blood test. What they say to you then it’s a little bit high, but leave it, don’t worry about it. Through that. You know, you wait, you don’t worry about it. Even though it was about, you know, a little bit high, they said, don’t worry. Six months later, I had another PSA test and this time they wanted me to do a MRI.

Clare Delmar
Do you remember what the PSA result was on that first time?

Delroy Wright
The first time I think it was about 4.1.

Clare Delmar
And then you waited six months…?

Delroy Wright
And then I waited six months and I had another one. But that time it went to about 4.3 4.4? And that’s when they said, well, you know, they wanted to do another examination, a more detailed examination regarding having a MRI scan.

Clare Delmar
Yep. Yep.

Delroy Wright
When the MRI scan comes back, you have a biopsy.

Clare Delmar
Yep.

Delroy Wright
And through the biopsy now, they said that’s when things came back and said, well, look, you’re at stage two cancer, you know, and then you get a little bit frightened for, you know, after that. But then I think I was one of the lucky, fortunate ones that started to ring around because I had another mate who was going through virtually the same situation that I was going through, and we were able to talk about it. So we both started to change what experience we were going through. And that helped me because we were in the same boat together. That’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this interview today, that hopefully that the brothers will then talk to each other and go out, even though they think there’s nothing wrong, still pursue and get a PSA or get a check for the local doctors to find out what’s going on. Don’t just leave things, you know, the NHS might tell you just leave it, but you can’t leave it because there’s something inside you and it could be growing.

Clare Delmar
What were the things, the key things you think you learnt from that experience?

Delroy Wright
I was lucky that I had insurance. I think you see when you get to around 40, 45, if there’s nothing wrong with you, take out some medical insurance. You can’t just leave it to the NHS to treat you, because by the time they get around to treat you, the cancer inside you, if you’ve got prostate cancer will be growing and then it may be too late to have any treatment diagnosed. So what I’ve learnt with this, you cannot just stand by and wait.

Clare Delmar
Because isn’t that what happened with your friend, that he, like you waited, but he wasn’t as fortunate as you by the time he wanted treatment?

Delroy Wright
Yeah.

Clare Delmar
I mean, Del, one of the things that I’m interested in hearing from you is did you feel any kind of discrimination at any point during your diagnosis and then follow on treatment?

Delroy Wright
No, I didn’t feel discriminated, what I felt was I wasn’t given enough information.

Clare Delmar
Right.

Delroy Wright
You’re not given enough information to know what is out there.

Clare Delmar
Yeah.

Delroy Wright
All the information I was given at the time was: wait; don’t do anything. You know, it’s easy to be said that don’t do anything because as I sit here now, if I didn’t do something about mine, you know, I’ve got a good mate of mine that because he waited, we both waited because we were sharing the same information.

Clare Delmar
Yeah.

Delroy Wright
I was lucky that I had something done. By the time he wanted to get something done, it was too late and he had to have his prostate out. So, you know, waiting is not something you can wait around. And I’m not sure that the community understands that you can’t wait on these things. I understand it is one in four black guys have got prostate issues they’re walking around with.

Clare Delmar
Yeah, and that’s exactly what I was going to ask you next. I mean, that’s correct. It’s twice as likely as white men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. But actually, you know, possibly even more importantly, when they are diagnosed, they’re more likely to do so with advanced stages of cancer. And I wanted to get a sense from you why you think that might be?

Delroy Wright
Well, I think starts like I said from the beginning, you know, I was lucky. Where my doctor’s surgeries is, there’s women doctors in there. And I think maybe if there was a thing that more women were doing tests, they were carrying out the tests around the passage, guys who turned up, they would be more willing to go and have their tests if they know if they go and see their doctor, that the woman’s going to go up into their passage.

Clare Delmar
So let me ask you a couple of questions about that, because this is really interesting and it’s not something you hear about a lot. You’re referring to the DRE exam.?That’s what we’re talking about? The digital rectal exam? That’s what you’re talking about?

Delroy Wright
Yeah.

Clare Delmar
OK, and then the second question I have is and this is at the GP, when you said the lady doctor, this is a GP you’re referring to, correct?

Delroy Wright
That’s right, yes.

Clare Delmar
So what’s interesting about that is it’s so basic and it’s so cultural. But yet, you know, not many people hear about this. You know, not many people hear about the fact that that’s what would be preferred. And from what you’re saying, that might actually get more black men into the GP’s clinic.

Delroy Wright
I reckon so. When we talk to each other, we talk. And if that is going to be an issue, I know what they’re saying, I’ve been on the street, I know they’re saying I can’t have some guy putting their hand up inside me, but if it’s a woman now, it’s a different thing.

Clare Delmar
Yeah, interesting.

Delroy Wright
You know, I felt comfortable with that, that a woman was examining me. I know in all cases not you know, it’s a lifesaving examination, you know, but that’s maybe one of the reasons why you don’t get a lot of the black guys going in because of that issue.

Clare Delmar
Do you think that that’s something that, you know, you mentioned that when you talked about that with your initially male GP, he understood that and he very readily.

Delroy Wright
He unserstod that.

Clare Delmar
Do you think that that’s something that could be very easily adopted?

Delroy Wright
Yes, I think so. Once, if the word was out, that a female doctor is going to examine you. Yeah, I think you get more response.

Clare Delmar
That’s really interesting.

Delroy Wright
… from the black community, black men. Yes.

Clare Delmar
So other than that, which is pretty important and we can come back to that in a second. What other messaging do you think is currently not out there, that should be?

Delroy Wright
I really think information like, I had to search for other information regarding your prostate or what other treatments there are out there. And I don’t think the hospitals, when you go to the hospitals, they’re willing to tell you or even show you that there’s other treatments out there. They’re only putting over what they think rather than saying, well, there is A, B and C, other treatments out there where you could explore, rather than just say, well, you know, let’s wait.

Clare Delmar
That’s important, but something else I’m interested in. I just want to come back to what you said about your friend who was going through a diagnosis at the same time as you, and then you mentioned that a lot of your friends talk about this. So it’s not a question of not talking about it because it sounds like you do talk a lot about it. It’s a question of the right message.

Delroy Wright
I’m quite open when it comes to certain things. But, you know, you’ve got to remember there is certain of the brothers, they won’t talk about what problems they’re going for. You know, they won’t go to another one of their mates and say, well, maybe got this issue going on. We are very closed. And, you know, I feel this is one of the reasons why I’m willing to do this interview with you today. If I can show what experience I’ve gone through, maybe that will help others going down the line really.

Clare Delmar
Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, I. What you’ve said and particularly about women doctors at the primary care level is really, really important and something that could be adopted. Maybe that’s something we can we can take further with some sort of campaign. But I really want to thank you for speaking with me today, because your experience is, fortunately it’s been very positive for you and it’s been really nice to to get to know you and hear about all the things you have to say, so thanks Del for joining me.

Delroy Wright
Well, thank you very much. Thank you for taking the time out. And again, I’ve got to thank the doctors who’s worked with me because, you know, if I didn’t have them doctors, I wouldn’t have known what I know now. And I hope, you know, this is something positive and carry on for other black guys out there that are going through the same situation.

Clare Delmar
Absolutely. Thanks again.

Delroy Wright
Thank you very much.

Clare Delmar
Further information on suitability and access to HIFU is available on our website, along with a transcript of this interview and additional interviews and stories about living with prostate cancer. Please visit www.thefocaltherapyclinic.co.uk. Thanks for listening and from me, Clare Delmar, see you next time.

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