Since discovering a common bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) puts Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American people at a higher risk for stomach cancer, Duke Cancer Institute epidemiologist Meira Epplein, PhD, has been encouraging these and other populations to ask their doctors about getting tested for the bacteria. Cancer risk can be reduced when H. pylori is detected early and treated with antibiotics. “There are so many cancers we don’t know how to prevent,” Epplein said. “Stomach cancer is one of the few we do.”
Bishop Ronald Godbee had never heard of H. pylori until Epplein approached him about finding volunteers for her 2018 study at Durham’s River Church where he is the senior pastor.
“My interest was immediately engaged as I discovered what it was and how it affected my community,” he said. “This was something that inevitably ended up in the demise of people I love. People who look like me, people who worship with me, people who exist in the same community as me, and there was a cure for it. There was something that we could do to radically alter the course of this.”