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by Shawn K. Supers   |   January 8, 2018

What I Learned in 2017…

New Year’s Eve found me reflecting on what I learned in 2017. How did I grow? What impact did I make in my community, and how can I take that experience and make 2018 even more life-affirming and impactful? Here are my takeaways:

Women Do Not Have Prostates

Most of us will shake our heads at this one, but after leading 26 education engagements in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter last year, I must have talked to at least one or two people at each engagement who absolutely did not know that only men have a prostate. And of the men that I talked with, maybe 50% knew their PSA, which is a blood test that men should get done at least yearly to monitor any potential changes in their prostate.

This indicates that there is a far greater need for prostate cancer education than one might guess, so in 2018 my aim is to at least double the educational outreach in my Chapter. To do that we will need a team of ZERO Education Ambassadors to deliver the message and help us reach men in their community.

Men Supporting Men

I met hundreds of prostate cancer survivors this year, most of them are quiet, humble men and would rather not talk about cancer but they find the strength, the courage and the commitment to not only fight for themselves and their families but for other men too. We have several ZERO HEROs from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter who share their story on our website so other men can learn from and be inspired by them. Mission Speakers at each of our ZERO Run/Walks delivered deeply personal messages of hope. And when there was a need to rally to protect federal funding of prostate cancer research we were able to count on our ZERO Champions to get the job done!

Men are willing to share their story because they know that they can support others who may be facing a prostate cancer battle. I’d like to see more of this in 2018, more men coming out with their teams to the Run/Walks, new folks joining us for our annual Summit and sharing their stories with our representatives on Capitol Hill, and more men sharing their strength with each other.

Caregivers Are Heroes Too

My favorite part of 2017 was recognizing caregivers during our Run/Walk post-race ceremony. It gave men the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and offer gratitude to their loved ones who support them in their cancer battle.

I was privileged to witness and feel the emotional reaction when caregivers were invited to join their ZERO Heroes to be recognized. As men placed sashes over their caregivers and gave hugs and gratitude, you could feel the pride, joy, and the strength of their connections. Above all, you could feel their hope for a bright future.

In 2018, my goal is to grow the ZERO Run/Walks in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter, bringing more of our community together to support each other. And I’ll need an army of Run/Walk volunteer leaders to make that happen!

If you would like to join me and the rest of the ZERO Champions who are making an impact in the fight against prostate cancer, shoot me an email or give me a call at 202-303-3115.

There are more than 21,000 men and their families who were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017 in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter and they are counting on us to put an end to this disease! We can do it together.