Beyoncé’s dad is a proud cancer survivor and he’s encouraging the Black community to be proactive about healthcare even in spite of racial inequities.
Mathew Knowles, 69, who beat breast cancer or “male chest cancer” as he likes to call it, chatted with SurvivorNet this week to discuss racial disparities in cancer care ahead of the org’s “Close the Gap” virtual conference in partnership with NYU Langone Health.
During the chat, the author, professor, and public speaker shared his cancer battle to encourage people to be proactive about their health especially members of the African-American community.
While noting the racial inequities in healthcare and the Black people’s historically accurate distrust with doctors…
“This distrust goes back all the way to slavery, quite frankly. If there is a new day, I think we have to understand that people of color are in high positions in the medical profession and are working vigorously to make change. We can’t change what happened years ago, but we can effect change of what happens today. It’s about early detection.”
he noted that we still have to take our health into our own hands.
“When we’re saying, ‘Well, I’m not going to go to the doctor because of what they did 10 years or 20 years ago,’ you’re only hurting yourself. You’re the one that will have the repercussions of not getting early detection.”
Knowles who carries the BRCA2 gene mutation which means that his children have a 50% chance of also carrying the gene which predisposes you to certain cancer (Beyoncé and Solange are negative) he added that genetic testing is affordable and key.
“I think when we get to genetics, that’s an overall lack of understanding. Because it’s so new in the medical profession,” he explains. “The next new thing is understanding genetically and going back to our family dynamics and family history and understanding those things and some of these genetic mutations are passed on to our kids and to our grandkids and to our great-grandkids. So it’s important to understand that. It’s important to know your family history, but genetic testing is accurate, it’s here, and it’s affordable.”
He also shared the moment he went in for a mammogram after his wife Gena Avery started noticing specks of blood on his white T-shirts and on their sheets.
“I didn’t ask him, I told him I wanted a mammogram,” he says, referring to his doctor. “Patient rights, I mean, it’s education.”
“You have the right to pick up the phone, call your physician, and say, ‘I want a PSA. I want a prostate exam. I want a mammogram. I want an MRI,’ You have the right to do that as a patient and a lot of this is education and the things that you are doing which I can’t applaud enough to educate people that they do have these rights.”
Mathew Knowles was diagnosed at Stage 1A and had surgery in 2019. He now no longer drinks and exercises regularly.
Mathew is participating today in SurvivorNet’s “Close the Gap virtual conference in partnership with Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health. Hosted by journalist Shaun Robinson it kicks off at 1 p.m. ET. and will feature music by Macy Gray.
Click HERE for more information.