What does one say when you gather almost 200 people from 34 states who are fighting to eradicate prostate cancer? GO ZERO!!
My wife Linda and I were honored to be part of the Annual ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit in Washington D.C. February 24-26, 2019. We arrived on Sunday afternoon, and after stowing our luggage in our room, we headed to registration and were immediately greeted by ZERO’s CEO, Jamie Bearse. We knew at once we were among “our people”, all of us working together to fund research, education, and awareness of this terrible scourge.
By late afternoon most of the advocates had arrived for our first session of roundtable discussions which included: “Handling Grief When a Loved One Dies of PC”, “How to Become Involved in Fundraising for ZERO”, “The Importance of Exercise and Healthy Foods When Battling PC”, and other topics to help us advocate for our fight. After a delicious dinner, we reconvened for the Bold for Blue Awards Ceremony where my own Team Angus was honored. Other awards were given, followed by an emotional “raising of the blue lights” by everyone as entertainer Jimmy Charles sang the inspiring words of his anti-prostate cancer song, Superman which shares the words “You can’t fight this battle on your own. No one’s Superman.”
Our Monday started early and ended late, but was worth every minute as we listened to presentations about new research dealing with genomic profiling, medications, and treatments. Other presentations gave all of us hope and continued to bind us together in our goal of stomping out the dreaded disease. As a prostate cancer survivor, diagnosed with stage IV in 2016, my goal is to live as long as I can because I don’t have time to be ill, and I certainly don’t have time to complain or feel sorry for myself. I have too much to live for and one of those things is to work with ZERO to educate other men about this disease so fewer and fewer men are impacted by it.
Along with the presentations, we were put into teams from our own locale as we would be visiting our legislators the next day. My wife and I were fortunate enough to be with others from the Harrisburg area: Mike and Gina Rotz and Terri-Lee Christiana. We were an awesome group, dedicated to our goals, and quickly became fast friends. The remainder of Monday’s program was being educated by the ZERO staff about the three talking points to present to our legislators: asking for a funding appropriation of $110 million to continue the fight against prostate cancer; asking for an additional $2 million to aid high-risk prostate cancer victims; and, asking our legislators to support a bill which would aid the diagnosis of prostate cancer with the use of PSA testing.
Tuesday morning everyone was up early to ride the buses to Capitol Hill. Our Harrisburg Five team was scheduled to meet with the assistants to Rep. Scott Perry and Senators Toomey and Casey. We understood that all three legislators were quite busy so would probably not be meeting with us, but we were told our messages would be relayed to them by their staff members. The assistants to Perry, Toomey, and Casey were very open to our message; all three taking notes as we spoke and accepting the packet of materials we gave them. We were especially thrilled to meet with Representative Perry as he finished a meeting early and made sure to take the time to talk with us. The day ended with a gala reception of all advocates, with CEO Jamie Bearse and ZERO staff members which included Matt Marks, Jeremy Reynolds, Caitlin Murphy, and others. Our own Shawn Supers, who has been the backbone of our Harrisburg fundraising over the past several years could not attend, but her energy and bright personality had been there for us in all the previous parts of the Summit.
The 2019 ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit was a high point for Linda and me. As Jimmy Charles sings – we are not alone in our battle! Those of us fighting this battle draw strength from family and close friends, as well as the hundreds of other survivors and those who have lost loved ones to prostate cancer. And, this strength and support is all bound together by one organization. GO ZERO!!