Nathan and Pamela Boyd

Nathan and Pamela Boyd recline at their home in St. Louis with their dog Princess. Pamela Boyd is a caregiver to her husband Nathan, a prostate cancer survivor, and serves as a 27th ward alderwoman in St. Louis.

The 11th Annual Prostate Cancer Survivors Gala of The Empowerment Network of St. Louis (TEN) will take place Saturday, September 28 at 7 p.m. at the Atrium at Christian Hospital. The prostate cancer survivors group, along with advocates and supporters, will celebrate caregivers who helped them get through their battles. Mellve Shahid, who founded the organization along with the late Isadore Wayne, said the recognition is long overdue.

“The doctors, they take care of the body, but many of the survivors, even after the body has been through the surgery or whatever, many of the men are broken and wounded,” Shahid said.

“It’s very traumatic. Nobody really understands how when the health of the human spirit is broken and wounded, that it also needs to be healed and repaired. And that’s what those caregivers have done, because they are there to nurture us back to health.”

One particular caregiver’s experience shows how a diagnosis of prostate cancer affects physical, emotional and spiritual health and even the dynamic of your relationships.

Shahid said TEN initially started working with the Boyd family in secret, because individuals reach out to the organization in their own time and in their own way. Shahid said when Pamela Boyd’s husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, as a caregiver she had nowhere to turn.

“My husband was a good hider,” Boyd said, “But at home, he wasn’t handling it well, and we had a lot of conversations and we cried a lot of nights.” She encouraged him, and she reached out to those who know the fight to provide further encouragement. She called Shahid. And Boyd said that’s when things started turning around.

“I feel that our family prayers and Mellve healed my husband, because we kept believing that we was going to beat this,” Boyd said. “Mellve walked me through on the nutritional part and the mental part to help me go through the process.”

Two years after beating prostate cancer, Nathan Boyd was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Pamela Boyd and their family were right there with her husband through another two years of treatment.

“The treatment a success, but it was such a mental toll,” she said. However, he has made a turnaround, is doing better and has retired a second time.

One thing that has helped Boyd through the caregiver role at home is keeping busy – working fulltime and volunteering in the community. 

“I think that kept my mind off  it,” she said, “but when I can home, I had to readjust my whole mind and demeanor to make him not feel like he’s not important and he’s not the focus.”

For self-care, Boyd started eating better and walking again. And working on behalf of others in the community provides nourishment in the form of service. In 2017, Boyd was elected alderwoman in the 27th Ward of St. Louis.

And while September is the month set aside to promote awareness of prostate cancer, it is a year-round, unending effort for Shahid and members of TEN.

“We want to encourage men to get tested,” Shahid said. “During this month of awareness, promoting survivorship and remembering those who lost their lives, we encourage men in the community to get tested.”

For more information about the gala or The Empowerment Network, visit 6000 West Florissant Ave., go online at http://www.theempowermentnetwork.net or call 314-385-0998.

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