I discovered ZERO in March 2016 and it has had a huge impact on my life!
My journey with ZERO actually started May 7, 2015 (National Prayer Day); the day I had a Robotic Prostatectomy and when my surgeon gave me a “ZERO End Prostate Cancer” wrist band. I thought it was a cool band and with a neat slogan, period. I’ve never taken it off as it is a beacon of how thankful and blessed I am. The significance of March 2016 is that is when I conducted due-diligence on ZERO and learned what ZERO was all about. It was much more than a cool wrist band; their mission resonated. I joined the ZERO Endurance Team and with the encouragement of my Wife, started to share my story (for 13 months, only my inner circle was aware of my diagnosis). I embraced the ZERO mission!
Just prior to my own diagnosis, I witnessed one of my best friends lose his battle to prostate cancer; it was gut-wrenching. When I received my diagnosis, I was convinced it was a death sentence. It was my decision to fight my battle alone and not tell anyone. I felt ashamed / embarrassed. Everyone perceived me as the picture of health. I had done everything right in my life - so had my friend. My motto has always been "life is not a spectator sport." I was no longer "walking the talk." I was scared; I was afraid I would not be around to walk my daughter down the aisle in July 2016.
One of the things I did do after my diagnosis was to set goals to get beyond the dark days; my long -term goal was to complete an Ironman Triathlon 14 months after surgery (July 2016). I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid a year in advance, not knowing if I would be around to do it (purchased withdrawal entry fee insurance just in case!). After learning about ZERO in March 2016, I combined my personal goal with ZERO’s mission to raise awareness for prostate cancer. Their slogan; “add meaning to your miles, help end prostate cancer.” Leveraging my story of hope, inspiration and awareness; I raised over $32,000 in less than a year. The fact that over 90% of each dollar donated goes to ZERO program expenses (total expenses spent on the programs and services it delivers) is amazing and resonates with me! Wow!
My journey with ZERO continues this year. I attended the ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit in Washington, D.C., an annual prostate cancer leadership conference where we advocated on Capitol Hill for Prostate Cancer Research Program funding (PCRP). It was an amazing Summit on so many levels, including a huge personal, unexpected benefit. Having gone through the first 13 months of my journey alone, it was incredibly therapeutic for me to meet and hear other Voices of prostate cancer.
The ZERO family is amazing and I am so honored and grateful to be part of it; it has been life-changing!
I discovered ZERO when my Dad was diagnosed with Stage IV Prostate Cancer in 2012. My Dad had no idea he was sick prior to his diagnoses. In fact, the only reason it was found was because he was losing strength in his hand...the Chiropractor sent him for an MRI and they found that the cancer had spread to his cervical vertebrae. A hug too tight could have killed him. My family was devastated when we were told "It's treatable, but not curable." We were told one treatment might work for a year or two and the next treatment might work for another year or two...my Dad heard "you have four years." And he fought for almost exactly four years. He lost his battle on June 28, 2016.
During my Dad's fight, I felt the need to fight too...I needed to fight for a cure, I needed to raise awareness so that other families wouldn't suffer like mine, I needed to feel like I was part of something that was going to make a change for prostate cancer patients. That is why I initially reached out to ZERO. They took me under their wing and helped guide me towards different ways I could help them raise funds and awareness. I haven't done as much as I would have liked over the years, but I do what I can and I am proud to support a nonprofit that does such an amazing job fighting for government funding, raising awareness, and raising funds to help with research so that hopefully one day we can have a generation of men free from this cancer. And to top it all off, everyone at ZERO truly cares - when my Dad passed away I got a very nice card from their corporate office, as well as emails and private messages on Facebook. During the most difficult time of my life, they made me feel loved. I will forever do what I can to support ZERO!