Every Memorial Day is special to me. Yes, like many other Americans I can enjoy a barbecue and time with my family. But as a Veteran of the U.S. Navy, I take special time and solace in remembering the many men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces including both my mother and father.
At the age of 55, after a long career in military service, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was otherwise healthy and happy. The news left me crestfallen and scared for myself and my family. But quickly, I learned that many Veterans are plagued by prostate cancer, the number one diagnosed cancer in the Veterans Healthcare Administration. So I decided that another way I would honor the fallen is by raising awareness around prostate cancer for those who have served.
In learning about the impacts of prostate cancer on military men, I learned a devastating statistic: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has diagnosed nearly half a million servicemen with prostate cancer and are actively being treated in the VHA. This makes prostate cancer the most diagnosed cancer in the VHA system.
Last November, I partnered with ZERO to create the ZERO Prostate Cancer Veterans initiative, to bring new resources and support to this battle. This initiative is already advocating for enhanced policies that will improve care for Veterans who have prostate cancer, and Veterans who are at risk for the disease. After all, Veterans have a double risk of prostate cancer than civilians. We do not know why the increase if present but we can confirm through statistics that Veterans are double the occurrence of the general population.
And during a time of pandemic, it’s more important than ever to protect our protectors. ZERO’s patient programs are here to serve all Vets and men, with prostate cancer who have been impacted by COVID-19. Here are some examples of ZERO’s free support programs available to patients and caregivers right now:
Get live assistance from our team of experienced case managers, ready to help you and your family during this crisis to connect you with financial and emotional assistance., Visit our website or calling (844) 244-1309.
Join our online Facebook group to get support from a community of patients and caregivers who have been impacted by prostate cancer and includes many Veterans.
If you are a patient who is looking for one-on-one peer support, visit zerocancer.org/mentor to get matched with an individual MENtor who can provide personal guidance and counsel.
ZERO’s newest program, Caregiver Connector, is here to help caregivers in this time of increased isolation. Caregiver Mentors can offer their experiences and insights to help caregivers care for themselves and their loved ones.
This Memorial Day join me in honoring all servicemen who are battling prostate cancer. It is up to us to protect our protectors from the unforeseen enemy that is prostate cancer. When most individuals sign up for the service, they dream of a life of service, honor, and adventure. What they don’t know is that 1 in 5 (male) Veterans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. With your help, we can help Veterans understand their risk of the disease and know that early screening and detection is key to winning the battle against prostate cancer. Honor a Veteran you know and love by donating to ZERO at zerocancer.org/donate. All gifts will be doubled through June 30, meaning Veterans will get even more support when they most need it. Thank you and God bless.