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  • Writer's pictureRev. British Hyrams

Role Reversal - by British Hyrams

Colorectal cancer survivor, Rev. British Hyrams, talks about her experience with cancer and the importance of advocacy in our communities.

Rev. British Hyrams is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) currently serving as a college chaplain.


As a health-conscious woman, I was naive when I went to check off my first “let’s get this over with” colonoscopy at age 50. So, when I awakened to find that I was not going to have a fun-filled, celebratory feast with my husband and instead the two of us were being counseled to visit a surgeon immediately to schedule the removal of a “suspicious” mass, I was blindsided! I was oblivious to the statistics indicating that Black people are diagnosed and die from colorectal cancer at rates significantly higher than any other racial group. I also had no idea about my own family’s history of polyps. I. DIDN’T. KNOW!

My family was blindsided too. The family matriarch who encouraged eating plenty of vegetables, brushing of teeth, regular medical checkups and dental care among other things was now facing something serious. My husband had just been through several years of major surgeries and this seemed like a nightmare that just would not end. Little did any of us, including my high school and college-aged children, along with the rest of my family and friends, know that the initial surgery was only the beginning.

Role reversal while tackling Stage 3

Sure enough, the surgery revealed that the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes. This suggested chemotherapy as the best course of action to address my Stage 3 condition. Now, as a church leader (serving in an associate pastor type of role at the time) I was the one who needed the consistent prayers. I was the one who was sick, needed cooked meals, visits, and comfort from others. Words cannot describe how hard it was to lead a congregation while going through chemotherapy with all the physical, mental, and emotional difficulties it brings. As well-meaning as people are, and as much as you know they care, this “role reversal” situation was challenging even on the best of days.

As a woman of faith, I could only trust that God would lead me to complete healing. I was blessed to have each of my three children rallying to take care of their mother. My out-of-town family and friends flew in for moral support. My beloved husband never left my side and committed to be physically present at every appointment throughout my journey.

It's a necessary conversation - our lives depend on it!

Now by the grace of God, I am feeling strong again and am 7 years cancer free! I am also a relentless advocate in the Black community and willing to talk to anyone approaching the age of 40 about being screened for colorectal cancer. It’s a necessary conversation to have with our own families and throughout our community. Our lives depend on it!


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