It came on a Tuesday afternoon in an unassuming package tucked in with the catalogues and credit card offers. It is one of the most gracious and humbling gifts I’ve ever received in the 16-plus years as a patient advocate: a t-shirt worn by our friend Billy Wayne Fults. It’s a jersey he wore with pride at the San Antonio ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk as he fought the prostate cancer himself.
Just the week before, I told our Champions that I’m a t-shirt guy, and that I love seeing the shirts that teams and families design and wear out to the ZERO Run|/Walk events. I told them I’d wear their shirts to share the stories about the loved ones for which we’re fighting.
The last time I saw Billy Wayne was at the ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit in February. As they gathered their bags and hailed a cab, I gave the family hugs and hearty handshakes with every intention of seeing Billy Wayne again soon.
A Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Billy Wayne and his bride of 43 years, Casey, raised a beautiful family, and each one of them lifts up our shared cause to new heights. Billy Wayne didn’t let prostate cancer slow him down. As a big James Bond fan, he took a trip fitting for his last adventure: to Monaco, the setting for the very first scene of the first James Bond movie.
We lost Billy Wayne to prostate cancer earlier this year. But his memory will live on in our hearts – and the hearts of his family – forever.
My plan is to give his shirt an adventure. That evening, I wore it on a trail run – the longest one since I had ankle surgery over two years ago. I took it to Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Baltimore with me for Run/Walk events. And, with the nickname “Poppa” on the back, I’ll wear it while playing with my kids.
Together, we’ll end prostate cancer… or as Bond would say, “I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.”