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by Michael Dunne   |   November 22, 2021

Grow & Give: The Perfect Way to Spread Awareness

When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer this past August, it was a punch in the face. How could it be? I was healthy, I just turned 50, and I had absolutely no symptoms. I did however, have some family history and while my father and uncle both had the disease, I knew relatively nothing about what it meant to have prostate cancer. I did the best I could to educate myself. I talked to multiple doctors, researched the internet, and talked with prostate cancer survivors. And while I debated my options, I ultimately made the decision that I was going to call my urologist and proceed with surgery.

Well, he beat me to the punch and called me to tell me that although we had discussed other options, a deeper pathology of the cancer showed it was worse than they thought and that surgery was the only option. (Glad I was on board). He also added that it needed to be soon before the cancer could spread. Ideally before November. We were in September, but I trusted what he was telling me and could hear the concern in his voice and we moved quickly and scheduled surgery for October 11th.

The weeks leading to the surgery were hard on both me and my wife. We talked a lot. What if it spread? What if I hadn’t had a PSA test and discovered it? What could happen? It was a dark couple of weeks and we’d go for long walks with our Golden Retrievers and enjoy the moment and stay focused and try our best to keep our minds out of the dark corners. And she came up with fun ways to keep me positive and focused on beating this thing. I could have never gotten through this without her love and support. She put her own fears aside and focused her energy on getting me through this.

One morning, I woke up with The Dylan Thomas poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” in my head and shared it with her. It became our battle cry throughout the whole process. When things seemed bleak, we’d quote “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” meaning that we weren’t giving into cancer. We were going to fight it with everything we had. Sometimes we’d shorten it to just “Rage, rage” as it became our way of letting each other know what we needed to do to get through this.

On one of our walks, I said to my wife, “When we get through this, I want to help others and become more involved with creating awareness.” She loved the idea, even though at the time I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I just knew it was important and I wanted to help.

My surgery went well and it looks like we got it all. Our lives are somewhat back to normal in just five weeks and we’re looking forward to seeing what January’s post surgery PSA test reveals. We’re looking forward to Thanksgiving and certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

During my recovery, I saw that zerocancer.org was promoting their Grow & Give Campaign and I thought, “What a perfect place to start creating awareness!” I started my campaign immediately, made my first contribution and shared it with my family. When I went back to work, people commented on my beard and I told them what I was doing and why I was doing it. “Had I not had my PSA checked, I would have never known anything was wrong”, I would tell them. I posted my story on LinkedIn and Instagram and was touched by everyone who donated or offered encouragement or shared their story with me. I spoke to our company’s corporate communications team who featured me on the internal site and added ZERO to their “Share the Good” campaign where they match employee contributions dollar for dollar up to $2,000. I was doing what I set out to do on that walk, becoming more involved and creating awareness. I’m so happy to have teamed up with ZERO and to have the opportunity to share my story!

As of publication date, Michael has raised over $7,000 for ZERO’s Grow & Give campaign. If you’d like to get involved, please email beards@zerocancer.org or visit our website.