About a year and a half ago, the day before his 60th birthday, Ulysses “CC” Williams found out he had prostate cancer.
“A million things were going through my mind,” CC recalled about his diagnosis. “My doctor gave me the news that I have prostate cancer, but all I heard was jumble like Peanuts. So I went home, celebrated my birthday the next day — I was there, but I wasn’t there.”
As a father and a grandfather, men like CC and their families need help and support as they battle prostate cancer. After receiving his diagnosis, CC turned to ZERO to help him along the road to prostate cancer recovery, and he quickly embraced all of the resources that the ZERO community has to offer.
“I learned so much from being a part of ZERO to the point where now I can be an advocate to raise awareness about prostate cancer,” CC said. “It is so important that we check out our prostate. It’s just like anything else. You regularly check your bank account; you should regularly check your prostate!”
CC told ZERO that his family was instrumental in making key decisions about his prostate cancer journey. His son ultimately encouraged him to go through with a radical prostatectomy, a decision he hasn’t regretted, and his granddaughters Skylar and Riley are huge inspirations in his fight against this disease.
According to CC, being a father and a grandfather has changed his perspective on his prostate cancer journey, and added a whole new level of responsibility.
“Some of our fathers passed before we had an opportunity to find out what was going on. A lot of the fathers are here today, and sometimes they don’t discuss what they’re going through. It will pass down a generation without us knowing about it,” CC said. “My son was born on my birthday; he is one of the best gifts I’ve ever had in my life. The gift that keeps on giving. He has definitely been instrumental in this whole process, from the start to right now. He is aware that this is a disease that runs in our family.”
Part of being a father means having the courage to have the tough conversations about family-related risk factors. It’s imperative that men — brothers, sons, grandchildren, cousins, and uncles — are aware of their family history with prostate cancer and understand their individual risk of developing it.
“My Dad succumbed to prostate cancer in 2016,” Rallie Settles told ZERO. Rallie is on the front lines fundraising and advocating for the end of prostate cancer. As a father and a prostate cancer patient himself, he wants people to know that ZERO not only helps patients, but families, caretakers, and entire support networks.
“I treasure the memories we made each spring at the ballpark, around the grill, and seeing the kids grow a little taller every Easter. These days, I thank God for my beautiful family every single day, and for bringing ZERO into my life. I can now be by my family’s side for many more special moments to come.”
ZERO is committed to helping prostate cancer patients and their families overcome the financial, emotional, and medical obstacles of this disease. CC and Rallie are committed to making sure everyone has access to the best care possible, especially African-American men, who face a far greater risk of dying from prostate cancer. ZERO understands that we can’t end prostate cancer without ending this racial disparity.
“Where you live and the color of your skin shouldn’t limit your access to prostate cancer screening, care, and the very best treatments available,” Rallie said.
In 2021, nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer for the first time, impacting not just the lives of the patients, but friends and families. As the statistics around prostate cancer skyrocket higher than they’ve ever been, it’s now more important than ever to raise awareness about this disease.
Dads like CC need to sit down with their sons and be open about their disease, and the increased risk their sons have of getting it. Men like Rallie, who watched their fathers pass from the disease, and are now living with it themselves, need to be open to share their journeys and the importance of early detection. But responsibility doesn’t just lie with the men who are battling the disease, but with all of us.
Please consider how you can help spread awareness about this disease that takes a man’s life every 15 minutes. Will you talk with a relative? A friend? You may never know. A five-minute conversation with someone you care about may just save a life!