By Linda Hoetger
On June 19, 2009, my life forever changed. My husband Ray and I were given the devastating news: he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. However, I was not about to sit back and do nothing! I started advocating and raising awareness for this horrible disease that no one seems to want to talk about.
In 2012, I was contacted by ZERO to become an advocate and was honored to be asked to join the “family”! Working with ZERO has given me so many more opportunities to help raise awareness and to be part of ending prostate cancer. Each year Ray and I speak to our elected officials at the Annual ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit in Washington, D.C., and work locally in Ohio to secure proclamations from each local government declaring September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
I began my journey for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month proclamations in 2013. I’d see resolutions and proclamations from elected officials proclaiming months and days for other causes, and I knew I wanted to get involved for prostate cancer. In 2013 I asked the Governor of Ohio’s office for a resolution for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September. The very next year, Ohio had their first resolution for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month!
In addition to the Governor, I also contacted the Mayor from my hometown and asked for a proclamation. A few days later I picked up my very first proclamation. It was a great feeling to know that I could impact change locally and spread awareness of prostate cancer to the men in my community. The more men I helped educate about the disease, the better.
After that it became easy to start sending out emails with requests for support. Sometimes I would receive an email back from the elected official’s office with support and a story of how prostate cancer had touched their lives. They’d also tell me that they never knew that there was a month for prostate cancer awareness! One Mayor even responded to say that he was planning to start being tested.
I’m proud to say that I’ve received over 87 proclamations this year in Ohio and close to 260 for the past three years! In Ohio, some of our elected officials are also agreeing to light landmarks blue in honor of #PCAM17! We’ve also had the honor of receiving invitations from many cities, villages and townships to attend the reading and presentation of the proclamation or the resolution. After the reading we are asked if we want to say a few words, and we always share our journey and work with ZERO. It’s a great way to ensure more men know how dangerous prostate cancer can be.
I love being able to make a difference in the lives of men by raising awareness and educating those who may not know about the disease. Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is so important for getting the word out!
Make a difference this September! Every act, donation, and proclamation helps men and their families. Join me on the ZERO Proclamations Team! You can also find me on Twitter @PeteyProstate, where I share my proclamations updates.