Twenty-three years ago, Christine McMillan’s maternal grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Little did she know the impact that the disease had – and would have – on more than seven other men in her family.
Though her grandfather lost his battle with the disease in the 1997, it was with this diagnosis Christine became aware that several of her uncles and her stepfather had also been diagnosed with the disease.
Years later, in January of 2013, Christine received the news that both her father-in-law and her brother-in-law had been diagnosed at the same time. Her friend, who was an oncologist, urged her husband Michael – then 52 – to get tested for the disease. Three months later, he received a prostate cancer diagnosis.
While they had caught his disease early – it was still Stage I – a biopsy revealed that his cancer was very aggressive. He had surgery soon after, and Michael knew that his increased awareness had saved his life – they were lucky that they caught his cancer when they did. Their son – who is now 20 years old – is now more aware of his risk for the disease due to the prevalence on both sides of his family.
When Michael was first diagnosed in June 2013, Christine saw a listing for a neighborhood race for prostate cancer, and she wanted to get involved.
I felt helpless. I wanted to get involved in that local race because that way, I could do something to help. I had to get control back – I couldn’t perform the surgery or make him better, but I can raise funds for research to help other men and, in the future, my son.
Christine contacted the creators and Race Directors of the ZERO Run/Walk in Napa Valley to offer her services as the Volunteer Coordinator. Now, a few years later, she is working with the race as the Event Coordinator in order to bring increased awareness to the need for prostate cancer awareness and research.
Men need to get tested; they need to talk about this disease. I talk about men’s prostates all the time now, and you know what? It’s no longer taboo. Raising awareness is too important. If you want to help, get involved with a local event like the ZERO Run/Walk. Getting involved and volunteering helped me. Being able to do something about this horrible disease makes me feel empowered.