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Reflections of a 21-Year Journey

  1.  Expanding Patient Support.

    For an organization that was primarily known for advocacy and early detection, a watershed moment arrived when we orchestrated a multi-organizational partnership, resulting in more than $350M of co-pay relief provided to patients over three years. When government regulations altered the landscape of co-pay relief, we swiftly adapted and introduced ZERO360—the most comprehensive prostate cancer patient navigation program in the country, thereby extending assistance to hundreds more patients.

    Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, we were honored to merge with UsTOO, which facilitated increased connections between patients and patient support group leaders, ensuring they received the vital financial, logistical, and emotional support they needed.

    Story for Another Time: How we celebrated finalizing the partnership for another time.

  2.  ZERO Run/Walk (formerly the Dash for Dad) Kicks Off.

    From the outset, we’ve had the same goal—to create the Komen Foundation equivalent for prostate cancer. A pivotal step towards achieving that was organizing our own event series dedicated to this cause.After calling all over the country in a failed attempt to launch a walk in San Francisco, we finally nailed down the funding and the support needed to launch in Arlington, VA in 2008. We had a new name and impressive venue in place but, given the economic climate, the stakes were high at pulling it off. As I walked down a dark, starless bike trail in the dead of night, carrying cases of water to set up the turnaround point, I kept thinking to myself, “This has to work.”That first event was the spark that led to becoming the largest men’s health event series in the country—now spanning 50 locations across the U.S. Some of the faces who joined us on day one are still part of the ZERO family today, and together with the addition of dedicated, patients-first doctors like Sandy Siegel, we propelled forward.

    Year after year, you continue to make it a success by raising awareness about our shared cause and fueling funds for our unique programs.

    Story for Another Time: My walkie-talkie code names during the first run/walk.

  3.  MLB All-Star Game, 2003.

    A little over a year-and-a-half on the job, I got asked to throw out the first pitch at Major League Baseball’s All Star Game in Chicago as part of our Take a Swing at Prostate Cancer campaign. We had the blue ribbon on the big screen and on the baseballs; helping reach new audiences of people at risk for prostate cancer.

    Personally, it was a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I got to throw to Boston’s catcher Jason Varitek. I still have the ball and the jersey today.

    Story for Another Time: Was it a strike?

  4. First DOD-Funded Treatment.

    Indeed, the Department of Defense funds medical research, which has led to some of the most significant breakthroughs in the field. Why does it fund medical research? Well, I’ll save that for later. The most important thing to say is that it works.

    In our formative years, advocacy was the primary focus. We had to talk about the importance of funding prostate cancer treatment, often referring to Herceptin—a successful drug for breast cancer patients—as the sole example of success within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).

    After years of sending advocates to champion this cause, our work paid off. Denosumab became the first of just eight new treatments for prostate cancer to receive CDMRP funding over the past decade. It was an achievement heavily supported by ZERO’s Summit and advocacy work.

    Story for Another Time: My best Congressional meeting about research funding.

  5. Caregiver Support.

    Throughout recent years, we’ve received feedback noting a significant presence of caregivers holding influential positions within the organization and the ZERO community. This was a stark contrast to the early days of ZERO, when we relied on patients and survivors to carry our message.

    Engaging caregivers through Run/Walk events, incorporating them into the Champions program, and launching and expanding our chapters program were some of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

    We can’t end prostate cancer without families playing a vital role. This cause would still be twenty years in the past without the heavy involvement of patients’ loved ones. I’ll always be grateful to the amazing caregivers and former caregivers for helping shape this cause.

    Story for Another Time: The moment I knew talking about prostate cancer as a family disease would work.

  6. Best Places to Work For.

    In the last ten years, we’ve been named among the top 50 best nonprofits to work for by the NonProfit Times nine times. There’s no doubt it’s because of our amazing staff.

    There are so many talented people who have come into ZERO’s doors and given their whole hearts and talents to help patients and families. Each one has inspired me and made me a better person in more ways that I can count. Seeing the team pull together and earn this honor—especially during exceptionally tough years like 2020—was especially inspiring to me. Leading with empathy has made all of the difference!

    Story for Another Time: Sometimes the best medicine is laughter. We’ve played some good practical jokes on each other. Ask me my favorite.

  7. One Night in Kansas City.

    The summer before the pandemic, I was lucky enough to join a bunch of ZERO Champions the night before our Kansas City Run/Walk. Champions had traveled in from all over (some as far as Florida!) for this specific event.That night I learned that these folks had formed deep bonds, becoming integral parts of  each others’ lives; extending invitations to each others’ vacations, weddings, and graduations.

    As the night went on and I saw their interactions, I realized what a privilege it is to be a part of our Champions’ lives. It showed me how connections across our community amplify the passion each of us have to ending prostate cancer.

    Story for Another Time: Don’t forget to ask me how many Run/Walks I went to that year.

  8. Drive Against Prostate Cancer.

    While the population in the United States has increased 16% since 2000, prostate cancer deaths have experienced an average decline of about 1.8% thanks to advances in treatment and education about risks, awareness, and early detection (despite the pandemic and deeply flawed studies).

    Through the collective efforts of dedicated staff and invaluable partners like Gillette and Nascar, we successfully launched the Drive Against Prostate Cancer. This campaign resulted in over 250,000 men receiving doctor consultations and prostate cancer screenings over a ten year period, saving a countless number of lives.

    Story for Another Time: How did Carmen Electra help out the program?

  9. Health Equity.

    Black men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer. For decades, researchers attributed this to physiological differences in prostate cancer patients, but the truth lies in unequal access to healthcare.

    We can’t end prostate cancer without eliminating healthcare disparities for patients. I’m proud to have helped ZERO address this significant issue within the cause, working alongside the Congressional Black Caucus, Church of God in Christ, and 100 Black Men of America.

    Story for Another Time: Getting a Black pastor from Texas to meet the President about prostate cancer.

  10. Name Change and Logo.

    We were met with some criticism when we decided to change our name from National Prostate Cancer Coalition to ZERO, but it helped transform our image. As a D.C.-based organization, we were often mistaken as a government branch. Our name change helped our country see us as a community-driven powerhouse for patients. It was also an honor to have a cancer patient at Wieden + Kennedy, who was the creative force behind Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson ad campaigns, design our logo.

    Story for Another Time: Our second choice in the change after ZERO.

As I conclude my 21-year tenure as President & CEO, I have so much pride for what we’ve accomplished together and appreciation for each and every person who has been a part of the fight to end prostate cancer. Together, we’ve made a difference in the lives of countless patients and families. 

As we part ways for now, I can’t help but feel excited for the future knowing the legacy we’ve built will continue to thrive and make a profound impact. These memories are just a glimpse of the remarkable journey we’ve shared, and I can’t wait to meet again to share even more stories of our collective efforts throughout the years.

Until then, thank you all for being part of my journey. ZERO will always be my family, and I’ll continue to support the cause. 

See you soon, 



Sharply dressed man in a blue suit with a checkered button up shirt next to a brick wall
Jamie Bearse, Past President

Past President of ZERO Cancer between 2002-2023, Jamie was instrumental as a leader, mentor, advocate, and champion for the families we serve.