Prostrate Cancer

Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in males that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer.

With stark statistics of Prostate Cancer affecting 1 in 4 Black men Lou Taylor from Black History Month South is urging Black men over 40yrs old to utilise PSA blood screening tests.  With early detection and treatment vastly increasing the chances of survival Lou Taylor is working to spread the word far and wide! 

Why do you think prostate cancer is not at the forefront of our community?

First of all, there are a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, a lot of Black men feel this is a private thing.  Almost because of where the prostate is situated, so it becomes very private and not often discussed.  Yet we are always happy to discuss breast cancer and things for women.  But this also is very serious.

At least in the UK, it is part of a comedic trope.  That thing of getting up in the middle of the night and going to the toilet 3,4 times or more when you get older.  It has become part of comedy and so it is something very easy to ignore. Because the symptoms are you have no pain, the only sign is that you need the toilet more often. So, it is easy to put to one side.  Also, most men don’t want to go to the doctors for the digital exam.  You can have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and most people don’t know about the PSA, which is a simple blood test.  If your PSA is high, it may be an indication you may have an issue.  The one thing that I experienced with my doctor, when I first went and requested the PSA, he gave me all the reasons why it was not very accurate and why I probably did not need it.  He was a white doctor and I told him the incidence of prostate cancer in Black men is 1 in 4, and he was shocked to hear that.  I did not get my test, but I got a letter apologising and asking me to come straight back.  I went back, he gave me a test and it was high.  I then went for various other investigations.  I had an MRI scan, a biopsy and another biopsy under general anaesthetic and it came out negative. 

All those tests.  My feeling was if this has happened to me and I know I am quite proactive, how many other men out there are presenting late? 

I had a conversation with Gale Byrne, the Director of Nursing at University Hospital Southampton just last week and I brought this up with her. She said what they see is Black men coming in presenting with secondary cancers.  Those secondary cancers are what they are dealing with.  But actually, if they had come in sooner, the primary one was the prostate.  Now some forms of prostate cancer are incredibly aggressive.  Most men will develop it at some point in their later life, but it is so slow progressing that you will die of something else before it gets anywhere.  With the aggressive type, however, it is so aggressive, it can enter your bone marrow, your brain, or your lungs.  It’s so quick, and you’re here today and 6 months later, your gone.  It can be that fast. 

So in answer to your question, Why do I think prostate cancer is not at the forefront of our community? It is very easy to ignore.  And with most black men, you don’t pay much attention.  And I don’t think that this is unique to Black men; it is men in general, actually.


How have you found the experience of pushing your message to the community and local authorities?

The authorities in Hampshire have been really good.  We managed to get Meridian TV who jumped on it in a second to interview (  We’ve had really good backing from the local council and The University Hospital and Action Hampshire have been instrumental.  The minute I mentioned it to them, they managed to help with funding from Communities Against Cancer and the Wessex Cancer Alliance.  All these organisations wanted to get the message out and they see it in their numbers. 

Interestingly enough, from the Black community, I have not had a lot of feedback as yet. But it is early days, as we only launched last week.  I have had feedback from women interestingly, but I have not heard from men and that speaks volumes to me.  I have had a few women email and text to say it is great what I am doing, but I have not heard from the men.  But I get it, there is a masculinity attached to it.  We would like lots of older men to get a PSA test, but ideally if this message gets heard by those who are now in their 30’s and 40’s, then, it’s in their head.  That’s really what it is about!  So, in time hopefully, it will be natural for them to talk about it, no different to breast cancer.  When breast cancer first came about, I’m sure it was something that was not easily spoken about.  Now, it doesn’t carry any stigma: men talk about it, women talk about it.  It’s in the public domain; and I think celebrities have got hold of it too.  We need some male celebrities, black celebrities.  I know a few have, but not loud enough.  It needs someone like Morgan Freeman, or Samuel Jackson, would be ideal – even though they are American. We need someone that carries weight. 


What was your journey with prostate health?

Diet, nutrition and mainly exercise.  I am not great because I like my chocolate and coffee.  I did a lot of intermittent fasting for quite some time.  I lost quite a bit of weight.  I exercised; I didn’t just exercise without thought.  I had an enlarged prostate, and I knew a lot of the core exercises that you do, put pressure on the pelvic area.  So, I exercised in and around that area, but did not put the same pressure on.  I did exercises that don’t necessarily target my core so hard.  So I eased off of that and focused on the legs and upper body.  I do it purely just to stay healthy. 

I then noticed over time my symptoms lessened, which is the first thing I noticed.  I could go to the toilet and it was not an issue.  I’m not waking up in the middle of the night 3, 4, 5 times running to the toilet and, then, not being able to go.  That was the biggest issue.  You have this intense urge and then, you can’t go!  That is a sure indication that there is something wrong with the prostate gland, because it is blocking the bladder.  Over a year and half, it has taken awhile, but my last PSA is now pretty much normal.  It’s 3.2 ng/mL and before it was 19. For me, this has been down to diet and targeted exercise.


How do you want your work to change how men perceive prostate cancer?

I would like it to be as common as going to the gym.  Going for a PSA test for men over the age of 45 should be standard.  It should be pushed by the NHS to men in general.  But if you fall into that demographic, you should be going for your PSA test once every 2 years.  I have one every quarter.  I look after myself physically and I noticed it has tailed down.  Even my doctor said “Wow, this is incredible!”  It’s almost back to normal. Before, my PSA was so high that they thought I would need proper treatment.  They offered me various drugs to ease the symptoms I had, but I was sure if I worked at it, I could bring it down. And here we are, almost back to normal.

How I would like it [prostate cancer] perceived?  Something that is insidious but can be solved very quickly, if you pay attention and visit your doctor.  And it does not always mean the digital exam, but can be, because with the PSA test – one can lead to the other.  If your PSA is high, then, go and get further checks.  It’s no big deal and it could save your life!

Black Breast Cancer

Bidii interviews Marlene Ellis, of Black Breast Cancer (BBC) – – who has been fuelled by her own experience of breast cancer to create a much-needed resource to support Black women (and men) around the world!

What made you create the BBC?

The website is what I wanted, when I was first diagnosed. You don’t really have to think about it, until you are suddenly diagnosed with it and join a club you didn’t want to belong to. The first thing, in this day and age, was to go to Google to find out something. I realised as soon as you are diagnosed, you are on this conveyor belt.

You think “hang on a minute. I don’t know!” I thought I knew something, but when you are personally impacted, the first thing I wanted to do was speak to my own people. It was extremely important I speak to other Black women about what they did. What happened to them in these circumstances? What am I supposed to ask? I’ve lived in Brixton twenty odd years, I know lots of Black women, and yet I only knew one person that I could go and speak to. And it shocked me. I could not see anything on Google. I did not have anybody in my immediate life. It’s not like I was living in the Outer Hebrides. I was living in Brixton, but I didn’t know where to turn to. So that was the motivation. The website represents what I wanted to see when I was diagnosed.

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Hypno Birthing

Sankofa Hypnobirthing founder Tracy Awere ( about-me) was empowered through her own pregnancy journey. Trained in hypnotherapy and hypnobirthing, Tracy started teaching both in 2014. She has since been providing her service to women and couples as they prepare for their birthing experience and beyond.

What is Hypnobirthing and what are the benefits?

Hypnobirthing is a fully comprehensive childbirth preparation course that not only educates mums-to-be about the biomechanics of birth and what will happen, but also teaches them how to mentally prepare for birth with a confident and positive mindset.

This mindset work is particularly important because, sadly, childbirth in the Western world is often portrayed as being scary and agonising. When we frequently see or hear such stories of birthing women in distress and cursing out their partners during labour, this idea is drip-fed into our minds and affects both men and women. I mention men here because, as fathers, they will also have concerns for their child and for their partner who is having the baby

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Intermittent Fasting

An interview with nutritional consultant Jo Dash, with extensive years of research experience in the science of melanin and food.  Bidii explores, with Jo, the practice of intermittent fasting, including its effectiveness for helping people in a variety of ways.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a structured calorie restricted diet. It is about balancing a window of eating period, with hours of rest. So, for example, the 12 to 8 pm method would be the most popular one. So, you would have a 12pm, midday, to 8pm eating window. Not to eat throughout the window but just a period where you can have a meal – followed by 16 hours of fasting, where you don’t have any calorific drink or food. You can have herbal tea or water, but nothing that is calorie based. Because when you don’t eat, and you fast, the body responds to it as stress. But not stress as you know it, but biological stress. So that means it forces the body to go into self-preservation mode and self-detoxification. So intermittent fasting is saying I have a designated time to feed myself, followed by a long period of abstinence of food, or any sugary food or calorific food. That is what intermittent fasting is really about.

What are the health benefits people can achieve with intermittent fasting?

There are so many benefits. Too much to list. But the key thing is to say it is holistic. When you do intermittent fasting, of course, weight loss is the number one thing. You will drop the weight because you have less insulin in the body. The second thing is you go through this thing called autophagy, which slows down the process of ageing. It revitalises the body by renewing cells and clearing debris in the cytoplasm of the cell, which is great because the accumulation of waste in the cell is what ages you. So autophagy allows cell repair and growth, and creates a more harmonious environment for the body.Read More

Healthy Hair Transitioning

For some women transitioning back to natural hair is a breather from chemical treatments.  But to grow a healthy head of hair, does take time and care.  Speaking with Trichologist consultant Nicola Smart of Smart Hair Clinic to provide the below transitioning tips that you can easily adopt.

  1. Take it easy – the line of demarcation (the hair between the virgin roots and processed ends) is very delicate. If you choose to transition over the long term, expect for some of that processed hair to break naturally but being gentle especially when hair is wet, can help mitigate against that.
  1. Moisturise – I think we all now understand how imperative moisture is for flexibility and elasticity in a hair strand. Hydrate your hair and scalp with regular cleansing and seal that moisture in with butters, creams, oils (providing you don’t have any scalp issues) of your choice. Also maintain moisture levels between wash days.
  1. Protein – protein goes hand in hand with moisture. Some strands do well with a mild protein treatment every wash day, for others it might be less frequent. Figure out which approach works best for your hair and use protein treatments to maintain the hairs tensile strength and support moisture retention. A good protein/ moisture balance will be crucial to keeping processed hair, in particular, strong during the transition.

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Raw Food and the White Tied

The food we eat is crucial to the quality of our day-to-day lives.  Bidii speaks with Raw Food Consultant Derin Bepo about eating raw, the affects on the body and how it can help us regain balance and control of our health.

How do you find people’s approach to the “raw food” lifestyle?

A lot of people come to me with illnesses and one of the first things I do, is to increase the amount of raw food they are eating. I think I have become a bit more mature. Before, I was a bit “raw-food zealous”, chanting “go eat raw food, go eat raw food!”

Now I get people eating raw food without even using the phrase “raw food”.  So, I’ll explain; to reset your body over the next 30days, you need to eat a bowl or large portion of fruit for breakfast, at least a litre of vegetable juice a day, then a large portion of salad.  Even if there is something cooked in the salad, have it be only 20%. They usually say, “oh, I can do that!”, but what they do not realise is that I have just inducted them into raw food eating.  If they can do that, their whole health framework changes because they are getting huge volumes of plant molecules in a raw form now, and it is getting into the body.  Some people after 30days start to feel different.  They, all of a sudden, start to get a huge amount of raw unprocessed plant molecules in their natural and hopefully organic form into their body and this has an exponential and radical change in how the body works, and begins to function at a different level.  The body begins to wake up and does what it needs to do; namely, the repair and reversal of diseased states.  So it is really that simple.  People think it is some kind of regime. And when I finish the 30days, it can go back to business as usual, and there are several scenarios after this. They often have a loss of taste for certain things like common foods.  They might ‘treat’ themselves to certain processed food after the 30days and they become violently sick and feel ill.  Then they get it, and the body is saying ‘hey, we don’t want that.  We never wanted it! Now we have gone really clean and clear, and you are dumping this back into the system?’.  So, the body will sometimes react violently and feel ill; and I welcome that!  That physical reaction is the body talking more eloquently, loudly and more persuasively than I ever can.

So, the key thing is, the body understands and functions optimally with plant molecules, those plant molecules in their pure form which are unheated.

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What information would you say is essential for women to understand about alopecia?

I think it’s important for people to note that alopecia is a general overarching term for hair loss and encompasses many conditions. Women specifically are complex humans in many ways and that includes in relation to hair. Ninety percent of my patients are female, and their hair loss cases are often far more convoluted than their male counterparts. In other words, there are often several factors that play a role in female hair loss. Women should try to look beyond the physical area of thinning, taking a holistic view of their health and lifestyle to pinpoint triggers behind the hair loss.

Secondly, paying close attention to and understanding your hair and health can really help women identify changes in their hair. There are some instances where women may wear their hair in protective styles regularly and although this is generally fine, problems are more easily identified when you handle your hair regularly. With more consistent handling of the hair you learn to better understand how it behaves i.e. when it requires moisture, a trim or a shampoo. Without seeing or handling your hair regularly, you can sometimes miss slight changes that could be addressed early on.

Lastly, don’t wait! If you suspect something isn’t quite right visit your GP or a specialist for a second opinion. There are so many instances of hair loss that go unchecked until the very final stages of the condition. It is far easier to mitigate against the spread of hair loss than to regrow hair.

What are the actions we can do to help prevent/reverse alopecia where possible?

While there certainly isn’t a magic potion or one fix for all, there are some types of hair loss that can be prevented with better handling. Traction alopecia for example, can be avoided by being kinder to your scalp when detangling and styling. Temporary hair loss associated with stress and nutrition can be mitigated against by having a good understanding of your body and its changes. Knowledge of self is sometimes key to identifying changes and combating alopecia. 

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Our Immunity

At this time everyone has questions, comments and concerns about their health and appreciate the importance of an optimum immune system.  To help, a better understanding of the body and the function of the immune system is needed.

The immune system is made up of organs and processes that enable the body to fight infections and toxins; which are rid from the body through the lymphatic system.  Organs in the immune and lymphatic system include the thymus, bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes.

The immune system uses white blood cells to fight infections.  Certain types of white blood cells are called phagocytes which consume invading organisms and infections to the body. Lymphocytes are another type of white blood cell, which is used to remember the bacteria (pathogen) and how to destroy it.

There are two kinds of lymphocytes – B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes.  Lymphocytes originate in the bone marrow.  The B lymphocytes stay in the marrow and mature into B cells.  The T lymphocytes move to the thymus gland from the marrow and mature into T cells. B lymphocytes are used to identify destructive organisms which the T cells will then be used to kill destroy.

B lymphocytes are triggered to make antibodies which latch onto specific bacteria. The antibodies stay in a person’s body and remain there so if the same infection were to reoccur the antibodies would be able to recognise it and act accordingly.

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Our Food

When All Nations opened Dec 2017 in Hackney were people surprised to see a rich Caribbean menu which is vegan?

Yes.  Sometimes people come in and are surprised in the variety of vegan dishes.  People think they  have less choice in vegan food.  I want to show them we have a lot of choice and you can also have the healthy options that are substantial.   A lot of vegan foods now are processed, so I wanted to stick to the natural ingredients.  I use most of the ingredients I grew up on and keep it simple.  People  taste the difference between processed and natural ingredients but people are surprised to see you can keep a dish simple but still have a lot of flavours with the right herbs.


As a partner and mother of 7 children how did you manage to satisfy your family on vegan food.

Six of my boys were born into a vegan diet, and they do not crave anything else.  The eldest son was different.  He knows the taste of meat and I tried to turn this taste into something that compliment the dishes that I do.  Many times it is just seasoning the food right that makes it work. Sometimes people think they like the taste of the meat but really they just like how the meat I seasoned.  So if you season the vegan food well that works too.

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The chemicals in our hair care

Interview with Tola Okogwu

For many women product ingredients are not a huge concern when looking for products. Why should this change?

I think we take for granted that the products we use regularly on our hair are safe but there are so many studies out there that suggest otherwise. When you want to lose weight, you know to check the ingredient on your food for anything unhealthy and we need to be more like that with our personal care products. 

In April 2018 I appeared in a BBC interview about a new study that showed that Black women are exposed to dozens of potentially hazardous chemicals through the hair products they use. Chemicals linked to hormone disruption, fibroids, asthma, infertility and even cancer.  There are a few studies, which have looked at the relationship between hair products and several health issues. This includes a study published in 2017 by researchers at Rutgers University, which found a link between breast cancer and the use of hair dyes and hair relaxers in Black women. Also a 2012 a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that found that the use of relaxers in Black women is associated with fibroids.

Black women are over exposed yet inadequately protected when it comes to hair care products. Over use of braids, weaves and extensions, coupled with bad hair care practices have led to an over-reliance on products. Add in the cultural, historical and societal pressures Black women face when it comes to their hair and the problem is further exacerbated.  In addition, the way Black women use products is unique. Products are used frequently, generously and can be left on for weeks or even months, with continuous reapplication in between. However, there is very little research being done into the cumulative effects and potential risks associated with this method of product use.

The most recent study, conducted in April 2018 by the Silent Spring Institute, showed that 80% of Black hair products tested contain endocrine disrupting and asthma causing chemicals. Read More