It's literally a matter of black and white.
One in four black men get prostate cancer in the UK – double the risk faced by white men.
The disease is already the most common type of cancer in British men and kills 11,000 men ever year – that’s one death every hour. Scientists say it’s unclear why black men should be at so much greater risk than white men.
Now a Huddersfield civil engineer, Thomas Kagezi, originally from Uganda, is helping to get the message out to black men that an early diagnosis can save lives.
Thomas, a married man with two young children, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. He said: “Within my African community the word ‘cancer’ and in particular ‘prostate cancer’ is still a massive taboo. If you’re diagnosed, you simply keep it to yourself – it is viewed as something to be embarrassed about.”
He has just undergone treatment for the disease and has donated some of his cherished African musical instruments to an exhibition at The Simmer Down Festival, Handsworth, a celebration of how black communities have found the strength to face prostate cancer in their lives.
A number of celebrities will be showcasing their ‘items of strength’ in a bid to raise awareness and shed light on the most common cancer in men.
The first black man to play for England Viv Anderson, Birmingham-born footballer Joleon Lescott and former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray are among the celebrities taking part.
Thomas said: “I’m originally from Uganda and music in African society is central to everything.
“We sing when we’re happy and we sing to console ourselves when we’re sad.
“Singing and listening to music carried me through my prostate cancer treatment.
“It reminded me of home, it made me happy and lifted my spirits when I was feeling low.
“These instruments remind me of times of celebration and coming together with my family.
“When life is tough they give me the courage to live.”
And it was only as the result of a bizarre incident last year that Thomas discovered that he needed treatment.
He was asked to complete a routine job in London but it saved his life.
While he was working he was startled by a man waving a leaflet in his face telling him about prostate cancer and asking whether he’d ever been checked for the disease.
Thomas put it to the back of his mind but later he read it, visited his doctor, pushed for tests and as of last month was told he is nearly free from cancer.