Before his death from prostate cancer, Phill Griffith's dad encouraged all five of his sons to get a PSA test. Now with a young son of his own to worry about, Phil wants no black man to ignore their increased risk of the disease.

18 May 2016

Phil (right) and his dad

I lost my dad to prostate cancer 15 years ago, aged just 57. A mechanic by trade, he was a funny but serious man with a really infectious laugh. He was also selfless, loved his children and the toughest man I knew.

As the youngest of five boys in my family, I was shielded from a lot of his illness and he only told me about his health after he'd had chemotherapy. That’s the hardest part for me to talk about as within four months of me finding out, he was gone.

It was a really traumatic time. I was expecting my first child, Aaliyah, and my dad never got the chance to meet her. Having to watch him deteriorate like he did was absolutely unbelievable. Afterwards, I found it really difficult to get my head around what had happened and why.

I worry about how my one-year-old son, Germaine, will fare with his health later on

One of the things my dad said to us before he died was: "Boys, whatever you do, get a PSA test and make sure you're in good health". His experiences gave me a better understanding of prostate cancer and I’m currently going through my own problems with an enlarged prostate.

But it’s scary how many young black men, like me, and their partners are unaware that 1 in 4 of us will get the disease. I worry about how my one-year-old son, Germaine, will fare with his health later on.

That’s why awareness is so important. There are so many distractions for young men and the check isn’t the nicest thing as a bloke – it’s like a violation. But this one simple exam can stop you going like I saw my dad and others go. It’s definitely worth it.

My main piece of advice to men would be to not ignore the signs. Prostate cancer is not a disease that happens overnight – it happens over time. As a guy, you don’t want to talk to a doctor or anyone about that area, but it’s really important that you do.

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