Tag Archives: Raising the profile

Running Up Hill – by Sarah Fry

Three years ago, when I was working as a full time prostate cancer Research Nurse, I asked myself why there didn’t seem to be any, or very few, black men in the prostate cancer clinics. Having an enquiring mind I conducted a review of the literature on ethnicity and prostate cancer and was surprised to find that men of African and African Caribbean origin have twice the risk for prostate cancer than white men. I quickly realised that this was something I wanted to research, and applied for PhD funding from RCBC Wales to explore what was known by men in the African and African Caribbean community in South Wales about their risk for prostate cancer. From the very beginning I was faced with a number of obstacles. My initial application for funding for this PhD topic was declined; the panel’s main concern being that I would “not be able to get a black man to talk to me about his prostate”. By my second round of funding they could see that I was not going to let this stand in my way and I secured the funding on the basis that I would find novel ways to recruit to my study.

I started my PhD on a part-time basis, keeping my toe in clinical waters, and decided to conduct a qualitative study using interviews and field work to find out how men living in black and white populated areas construct their beliefs about risks for prostate cancer. The aim of this being to find similarities and differences between these men to devise ways of targeting those most at risk in a meaningful and effective way.

The area in which I’m conducting my research is a suburb which is densely populated by people of African and African Caribbean origin. Of course the majority are now second generation but they have worked hard to hold onto their roots and this meant some were suspicious of ‘outsiders’ Butetown Mile committeeand at times just rude. Knowing I had to earn the trust of people in this community, doing something with not to them and not solely for myself, I learnt about a historic 1-mile running event which used to take place along a stretch of road going through their community. Most people spoke about it with fond memories; talking about the crowds it brought to their area, and expressing sadness at how they now feel they are isolated and separated from the city by new developments. So, why not re-launch this event? I saw this as a great opportunity to work with the community and soon set-up a small committee of myself and two key men who had been involved with the run in the past; one of Caribbean origin and one of Somali origin. The local council was thrilled. They had been trying to work with this community for years and so agreed to close the roads for free.

We decided, for the first year, to do the run for a large charity that I have connections with to help with administration. This seemed simple enough. The course is a straight line which generated interest in the past, and it now quickly became popular with club runners who started making noises about entry. Here we had two distinct social groups coming together. As a keen runner myself I am safe in the knowledge that most club runners are white professionals largely worried about how fast they run. The community I was working with, and particularly the men on the committee, were not used to the demands of the running group and bringing the two communities together has been almost impossible. The charity taking responsibility for administration has also seemed inflexible on accommodating to the cultural pace of the local community and I have started to see why the community might feel left behind. It is a matter of cultural competence; a concept which has become an extremely important thread in my PhD.

Last year, after months of stress and two weeks of sleepless nights, our first event was a success. The outcome was worth it; we had 65 runners pounding the streets on what turned out to be a great event. The club runners won and kept themselves separate from the local Butetown Mile flyer 2015community but I feel sure that integration will come with time. Integration does not happen with one event. The fastest child was from the local community and had never run before – so I feel we have something to build on. This year we have sponsorship and more engagement promises from the community, although I have learnt about pace and try not to get frustrated.

You may ask what this has this told me about the men in the community and how they think about their risk for prostate cancer. Firstly, it has allowed me access to this community and a depth of knowledge that will be invaluable, but it has also opened my eyes to what is important to these men. Surprisingly – it’s not what we as healthcare professionals think it should be.

Enter the Butetown Mile at –
http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/find-an-event/2015-butetown-mile

In the limelight by Nikki West

For the past few months Maverick TV have been following me in my day-to-day work as a Nurse Consultant at University Hospital Wales. The request came from the nursing board that channel 5 were doing a documentary on ‘Nursing’ and wanted nurses to show the diversity of their roles. As breast care is always somehow in the news, the latest being Angelina Jolie and her risk reducing mastectomies, I knew our department would be a target. The specialist nurse was not keen to do it and, in a way, I had reservations but we were gently persuaded.

Nicki running pictureAlthough I have been on TV many times in team sports, such as It’s a Knockout, Body Heat, Fort Boyard and Desert Forges, this was for pleasure and fun, whereas in my professional role I had to think about the consequences before allowing any filming; I was worried about the patients because of the sensitivity of the specialty. I had it in mind that at the end of the day they want to make a documentary and by the time it was edited they may have changed what was said and what was done so there was added pressure on me to be one step ahead.

 

The crew were very sensitive to my patients and almost subservient to me. I called the shots at every point and by the end of the filming I was so used to them being with me that I almost forgot they were in the room. I was amazed at the amount of patients who actually agreed to be filmed, both men and women. Any hospital appointment is scary but having to attend a clinic to investigate the breast is a sensitive and a very private affair. Most people do not want others to know about their appointments despite all the publicity and awareness that breast cancer receives.

The process was very exhausting and time-consuming, but well worth it, especially in light of the Francis Report and the negative press about nurses in the NHS. I really did feel that this may bring back some public trust and confidence in the nursing profession. To add a personal touch the crew followed me in my private life and filmed me running around Roath Park. They realised very quickly that my sport is very much a part of who I am and that without it I would not be as effective in my professional role. They also came to the university and filmed me teaching students which they recognised as a major part of my role and very important to me.

Nikki West at Oncology Nurse of the Year Awards (right)

Nikki West at Oncology Nurse of the Year Awards (right)

The highlight of the filming was being shortlisted for the British Journal of Nursing Oncology Nurse of the Year award and having to go to London for the dinner. The crew were really keen to film me at the ceremony and met us in London. We arrived in the rain, ball gown draped over my arm and a black cab waiting for us.  We had a staged get away to the opera house and were interviewed in the cab. The crew stayed all evening and ensured we got into a taxi back to our car for the 2 hour drive home. I really did have a ball!

The crew were amazing and genuinely interested in what nurses really do. They were surprised at the amount of autonomy and expertise that exists within nursing and how care has changed. The programme is being aired on Channel 5 this autumn.

Watch this space!