In April of 2012, I received the diagnosis that I had Prostate Cancer. The doctor said, “I have good news and bad news”. The bad news was that I had Prostate Cancer. The good news was that she felt it was confined to the prostate. The visit then took an unexpected turn. She said to me: “Take some time, about three months and do some research. When you’re finished, come back and let me know what you want to do for your treatment.” At first, I was surprised by her instructions; but immediately, I saw a ministry being birthed. I have a medical background, so doing research and understanding what I was reading was okay for me. However, I also know that plan wouldn’t work for men who didn’t have a medical background and they would be lost and frustrated.
It was at that point that I decided I wanted to be an advocate for men diagnosed with prostate cancer and to provide support and education for them and their families. I was so passionate about it that I sought out organizations that would support this effort. I found two awesome organizations, US Too International and ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. The amount of resources that were available to me, and the ability to partner with them as an advocate, has made a huge impact on my life. When I discovered the ZERO Summit and attended for the first time, I knew that I was locked in and planned to attend each year.
At the Summit, there were education classes, the opportunity to meet other men and their families who were on the prostate cancer journey, materials from vendors on new and emerging treatments and technology, and most of all, the privilege to go to Capitol Hill to advocate for funding for prostate cancer research.
I felt like my story was worth being heard and that I could influence the decision of our legislators to work in our favor and secure this much needed funding. Every year that I have attended, we have been successful in receiving level funding or an increase.
Becoming a part of ZERO was one of the best decisions I’ve made. The opportunity to be a mentor (as part of ZERO’s MENtor program) and to help men in my community and beyond, has been tremendous and impactful. The resources that are available meet so many of the needs of the newly diagnosed and survivors, along with their families. My journey hasn’t been easy, but being affiliated with ZERO has made it much better. I look forward to sharing much more in future posts. Be on the lookout for more of my incredible journey.