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Tofloko “NASARA” Gargonnu’s first experience with Prostate Cancer was in 1999, when his father passed away. “Before I found out he was dying from cancer, I knew nothing about prostate cancer. It seemed that Breast Cancer Awareness was always in the headlines and news, so I wasn’t aware of the impact prostate cancer was having on men, especially African Americans,” said Nasara Gargonnu.

In 2011, Nasara learned about ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer and immediately signed up for an endurance events as a Team ZERO member. This race had a profound impact on his life. “While raising money from friends, family, and strangers, I learned that many people have been affected by prostate cancer. I started hearing stories from the donors about fathers, brothers and husbands who have been impacted by this disease,” shared Nasara. These stories were a form of camaraderie and support. Nasara was not alone. They also reiterated the imperative necessity of curing this disease, which has impacted the lives of countless individuals.

Nasara will be competing in the 2019 NYC Marathon this November as part of our TeamZERO movement. “I discovered running at the ripe old age of 39, so joining the Endurance Team was a perfect fit. I am having an awesome time raising money and running as an Endurance Team Member,” said Nasara.

Nasara is a Physical Educator for the San Diego Unified School District as well as a Group Exercise Instructor at various local YMCA’s and San Diego County government sites. Nasara shares, “I am using whatever influence I have to spread awareness about prostate cancer through class lessons, health and wellness seminars, social media posts and just word-of-mouth. I have vowed to bring more awareness of prostate cancer to the masses in hopes of eradicating this disease in my lifetime!”

The post Running Towards a Cure appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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I was twenty when my dad, Tom Brown, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Like many men, my dad was a stubborn man who did not like to go to the doctor until things became too severe. He suffered from kidney stones, which meant pain and difficulty with urination was a norm. His prostate cancer went undetected until his doctor’s office suddenly could not find his records, prompting a complete physical. My dad’s prostate was so swollen, and he was in such bad shape, that the doctor stated if he had waited another week or two, he could have died. Surgery was instant and dad was sick on and off throughout the entire year. The original oncologist told my parents that all of the cancer had been removed, but failed to mention the need for radiation. My dad was able to get into another doctor for treatment, but could not start radiation and chemotherapy until his kidney stones were taken care of.

Throughout the years, Dad was in and out of remission, trying every treatment under the sun. Chemotherapy on several different occasions, radiation, spot radiation and even newer treatment methods that had shown some success.

As time went on, Dad’s cancer spread. First it started with his hip, but luckily with chemo-hormonal shots, it was maintained for a few years. With all the pain and exhaustion from the treatments, he did his best to stay positive. Our loved ones from social media may never have known how bad things truly were for him because he would ALWAYS smile for the camera! Times weren’t always so glamorous. Depression sank in and there were some dark times. I couldn’t even imagine everything that Dad was dealing with. I remember when my Dad wanted to end his treatments, but he continued to fight for his life, mainly for us, I’m sure.

It wasn’t until May of 2016 that we realized the treatments weren’t working anymore. The cancer began to spread again and this horrible disease was now in his ribs and lymph nodes. My dad was dying.

I will never forget taking a trip to visit friends out-of-state. My mom messaged me to say she was taking Dad back to the hospital because he was in so much pain. As much as I hated it for him, I wasn’t quite worried so much. Usually when this happened, they would do more scans to make sure the ‘terrible awful’ hadn’t spread more; the doctors would help manage his pain, and then they would send him home. Only this time, that wasn’t the plan. The cancer had spread to his liver and they now wanted to admit him to the hospital and then send him to hospice. Hospice! I was out-of-state visiting friends and I was being told they were sending MY DAD TO HOSPICE?!?!  I rushed home that next morning.

Dad wasn’t quite ready. I remember telling him, “Just because they are sending you to hospice, doesn’t mean you are going there to die.” They said they would get his pain under control and then send him home for further hospice treatment. He knew it was his time. He had a talk with our pastor while still in the hospital, but our pastor didn’t share it with us until we were in hospice and knew his time on earth was coming to an end. Our pastor Doug shared their conversation. Dad told Doug to watch over my mom and make sure that she was okay. This was it. He was preparing to go HOME.

We had some really sweet, precious moments with Dad those final days as he was preparing to head to his Heavenly Home. We laughed as a family, and we cried as a family. His last night on earth, my brothers and I were holding his hands and talking to him, letting him know it was okay to go, and that we were going to be okay. Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds came on, and we sang that to him. He had not been able to talk to us for a couple of days by then, but I felt in my heart that Dad could hear us. As the next morning crept upon us, I watched my Dad take his last breath on earth. Prostate cancer had taken my Daddy away from me.

Over the last several years, my brothers and I have worked to raise money and awareness of prostate cancer. For my birthday last month, in honor of my Dad, I set a goal of $500 to be donated to ZERO through my Facebook Fundraiser. I doubted I would reach the goal, because even though I have a ton of friends, many of us are very guilty of scrolling right past those campaigns.

You can imagine my surprise when my goal was not only met, but surpassed! Every donation made me tear up, as I knew each gift was for such a great cause – to help and save many men.

There was a quote in a ZERO email I received the other day that said, “We’re doing this for our fathers, our grandfathers, our uncles, our spouses, our ex-spouses, for all men. And we’re bringing everyone together.”  What a wonderful thing! It makes my heart so happy to be a part of this mission, this battle to end prostate cancer. I’m am doing this especially for My Father!

The post Doing It for Dad appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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ZERO is excited to have Riley Breen on the team! She’s our new Events Assistant who can nail all the words to “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies!

Here are five questions we asked Riley so you can get to know her better.

We know you’re awesome – but tell our ZERO Community what you bring to the table.

Coming from a social work background, I have a passion for helping people to the best of my ability. ZERO allows me to collaborate with a talented team of people that help me put my passion to work. I am constantly inspired to work hard, collaborate with my colleagues, and learn new skills that will make me a better employee.

What’s your connection to prostate cancer?

My grandfather was diagnosed in the 90’s, but fortunately he was able to beat prostate cancer by catching it in its early stages. However, I did lose my father when I was a teenager to an undiagnosed heart disease. My family and I have turned our grief into a passion for ending the disease, just like many of the families and friends affected by prostate cancer. ZERO gives me the ability to help provide resources to those fighting to end prostate cancer.

What will you be diving into first here at ZERO?

I joined ZERO a few months before our Run/Walk series begins, so I have been helping the events team prepare for another successful race season!

What fun things do you do outside of work?

I try to take advantage of living so close to DC. There’s always something to do! In the spring and summer you can catch me playing kickball on the National Mall. Otherwise, I’m exploring museums or spending quality time with my chocolate lab, Bowser, waiting for football season to start. I might’ve left New England as a kid, but I will always be a Patriots fan!

What’s in your Netflix queue right now?

Chances are you’ll find me watching a documentary or a Marvel movie before I inevitably end up binging “Gilmore Girls” again.

The post Five Questions with Riley appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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ZERO is excited to have Niamh Connolly on the team! She’s our new Senior Events Manager who hails from Cambridge, Massachusetts and her weakness is milk chocolate.

Here are five questions we asked Niamh so you can get to know her better.

We know you’re awesome – but tell our ZERO Community what you bring to the table.

I am an avid planner and have years of experience planning a variety of events and programs. I like to think that my former colleagues and teammates would describe me as a team player and always willing to chip in when needed.

What’s your connection to prostate cancer?

Fortunately, none of my family members or friends have been affected by prostate cancer. However, I am still passionate about ZERO’s cause. One of the main reasons that I decided to go into the non-profit space is so that my job would be meaningful and have a positive effect on people.

What will you be diving into first here at ZERO?

I am getting up-to-speed on our Team ZERO program as well as our Run/Walk program. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the ZERO community. Everyone here has been very welcoming and I am so happy that I get to be a part of the ZERO team.

What fun things do you do outside of work?

I am a true believer that it doesn’t matter what you are doing; it’s the company you’re with that makes something, or really anything, fun and enjoyable, so I love spending time with my friends and family. I especially love going out to eat and trying all the many different restaurants in the area. I am always up to try something new, especially if there’s live music and/or some friendly competitive games.

What’s in your Hulu queue right now?

“This is Us”, “Survivor”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Handmaid’s Tale” – Also love “Game of Thrones” but it’s technically HBO.

The post Five Questions with Niamh appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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Prostate cancer runs on both sides of my family so I started getting an annual PSA test at the age of 39. My diagnosis came after a biopsy confirmed why my PSA doubled each year over two years. I had mentally prepared myself for an eventual prostate cancer diagnosis when most guys learn they have it – in their 60’s. But all my mental preparedness was shattered when I got my prostate cancer diagnosis at the age of 41 late last year.

Time seemingly stood still after hearing the news while I endured a stream of doctors and tests to rule out other (potentially higher priority) suspect things that turned up in my image studies. This is when I discovered ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, where I learned about my cancer, treatment options, and found my post-treatment recovery motivation. Ultimately, I decided a radical prostatectomy was my best long-term option and I had the procedure performed two months after my diagnosis.

In April of 2019, my first follow-up PSA test was ZERO … and ZERO is a wonderful thing! I still have some difficulties from the surgery, but I am back doing the things I love – one of which is triathlon. Fortunately, ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer is a supporter of endurance events which is why I have chosen to race in support of Team ZERO in IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City this September, which will occur only nine months after my surgery. But my recovery goals don’t end there. My goal for 2020 is to complete nine IRONMAN races. Why nine? Because about one man in nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. If I can endure nine IRONMAN races one year after my prostate cancer surgery, then guys can endure the one minute of discomfort for a prostate exam.

My goal is to make 2020 the year for prostate cancer awareness so we can make significant strides in research and treatment so my two boys can be the first generation of ZERO prostate cancer.

You can help! Join me by donating to ZERO The End of Prostate Cancer. Join me through your corporate sponsorships or donations. Join me as part of Team ZERO and race in one or all of my target IRONMAN races. Or, join me by simply getting yourself, or motivating your loved ones to get screened for prostate cancer.

The post 2020 – The Year of IRONMAN appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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After years of anticipation, we are excited to share that the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, a department of Inova Fairfax Hospital is opening their doors to patient care on May 13th.  They have been a partner with us in the fight against prostate cancer for the last few years and Inova Schar Cancer Institute has returned as one of our Presenting Sponsors for the ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk – Capital Area!

The Inova Schar Cancer Institute, a department of Inova Fairfax Hospital, is a state-of-the-art cancer care destination – the first in the DC Metro area to offer multi-disciplinary, patient-centric cancer care under one roof. 1,000+ doctors, researchers, nurses, cancer specialists, and emotional support experts are at the ready to deliver the nation’s highest standard of compassionate, collaborative and holistic cancer care, customized to the needs of each patient from diagnosis to survivorship.

Last week, I attended their magnificent opening ceremony and dedication which had so many wonderful and emotional highlights with stories from cancer survivors.  

The ceremonial opening of the front doors was led by J. Stephen Jones, President and CEO of Inova who was joined by Inova Schar Cancer Institute patients, survivors, and their families. It was truly an emotional moment for everyone in attendance to see the amazing care patients received, and knowing that treatment will be shared with so many more in the future.

Award-Winning Journalist and cancer survivor Cokie Roberts put it best, “The only day that will be better [than today], is the day the doors close because cancer will be gone”.

Sign up and join us on June 15th to congratulate our Inova Partners in person: www.zeroprostatecancerrun.org/dc

The post Inova to Me is Family! appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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ZERO is excited to have Allsun Murtha on the team! She’s our new West Coast Chapter Coordinator who hails from Irvine, California and runs off iced coffee and cheese fries. Yum!

Here are five questions we asked Allsun so you can get to know her better.

We know you’re awesome – but tell our ZERO Community what you bring to the table.

I came to ZERO after working as a Life Enrichment Coordinator for an assisted living facility for end-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia residents. I work hard because I’m passionate about what I put my name to, and I’m proud to be following in my father’s footsteps by getting into the nonprofit world.

What’s your connection to prostate cancer?

My father was a throat cancer survivor and was always worried about being diagnosed with prostate cancer. When this position opened up I knew it was the right fit for me. I’ve known Vanessa Peterson, ZERO’s West Coast Chapter Director, since the early 2000’s because she did advocacy work with my Dad for the American Cancer Society. Watching my dad’s cancer struggle really pushed me to support PC patients/survivors and their families.

What will you be diving into first here at ZERO?

Right now, my focus is to support Vanessa and the West Coast Chapter while we navigate through working on our Run/Walk events. I’m also working on building relationships with our returning and new teams!

What fun things do you do outside of work?

When I’m not working, I’m chasing around my wild 3-year-old son, Clay. We spend our free time at Children’s Museums, at Newport Beach, or at the kitchen table working on a new craft project. I frequent Target way more than I should because it’s my son’s “favorite place” (plus I get the chance to stop for a coffee at Starbucks—that’s always a win!).

What’s the number one thing we should absolutely know about you?

One thing I would like for you to know about me is that I’m on the patient’s/survivor’s side 100%. I watched cancer almost take my father’s life and I watched it affect my family for years. I’ve been there and I know how hard it can be. In honor of my father, I intend to be a support system to anyone who needs it while they navigate this hard time.

The post Five Questions with Allsun appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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ZERO is excited to have you on the team! We know you’re awesome – but tell our ZERO Community what you bring to the table.

Work ethic, energy, experience – all good topics to cover.

I have two years worth of experience working in fast paced law offices that required that I learn everything on my feet. My true love is community outreach and I have been involved in my local community for three years now in numerous ways. I have campaigned, registered voters, raised awareness about community issues, and am currently preparing for a missions trip and a community Bible study. My passion for serving people and experience in professional settings gives me an eagerness to be thorough and efficient at work. I enjoy talking to patients, survivors, and advocates that call in. Evenmore, it brings me joy and fulfillment to care for my ZERO community.

What’s your connection to prostate cancer?

Prostate Cancer has impacted my life through my grandfather, Luay Abdullah Sese-Khalid. My grandfather was an air force veteran of three wars (WWII, Vietnam, and Korea). Most importantly, he was a loving grandfather that often doted on his grand-kids. He attended every one of my band concerts, softball games, plays, and awards ceremonies. He passed in his sleep in June 2010. He instilled in my siblings and I a love for family and a desire for education. Serving the ZERO community is like serving my grandfather, who withheld his struggle with cancer from his grandchildren.

What will you be diving into first here at ZERO?

A better question is what am I not doing! Right now I am working on a grant writing project from the Development Team, updating Accounting records for the Operations Team, and posting on Facebook about the Senate letter for the Government Relations Team.

What fun things do you do outside of work?

This proud Aunt of 5 loves babysitting my nieces and nephews. One of my favorite activities with my nieces and nephews is taking them to church and singing with them during worship time. I am also a big sports family, but not without family or friends sitting next to me screaming, laughing, and jumping around with me. On my way home from work, I always have a large book. Currently, I am reading”A Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.

What’s in your Hulu queue right now?

Living Single, Black-ish, Queen Sugar, This is Us, Fresh Off the Boat, The Bernie Mac Show, and Elementary.

 

The post Five Questions with Elisha appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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My Dad was 44 years old when he spent 72 hours in a hospital bed. I was 16 years old when I spent 72 hours in a hospital chair by his side. Eight years ago, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. One surgery, three infections, and five weeks spent in two different hospitals later, he is now eight years cancer free. Not only did he kick cancer’s butt, but he’s been kicking butt at life every day since. When my Dad was told he was no longer sick, he made a point to never get sick again. He may be 52 now, but he sure does not look or act like it.

Shortly after his path to an extremely healthy lifestyle, it became my Dad’s mission to start fundraising for Prostate Cancer research and raise awareness for early detection. He set a goal to inline skate across our home state of Colorado, raising money and awareness along his journey. After his first successful Skate For Prostate across Colorado in 2012, he didn’t stop there, tackling the state of Texas in 2013.

My father has skated a total of 1,050 miles, participated in numerous events, done countless interviews, all while raising awareness, meeting others who have been affected, fundraising, sharing his story, and genuinely changing lives.

Everyday my Dad inspires me. His long, hard battle with cancer is something I wish no one else has to go through. His strength and endurance push me to take care of myself and my body.

I would like others to have the option to fight like he did. I am running 26.2 miles in honor of my father and all those affected by Prostate Cancer. I am running on behalf of  Team ZERO because I want to be part of a movement for Generation Zero – a generation free of Prostate Cancer.

To those all those affected – there may be numbers that impact you too. You may not have those numbers yet, or you may be counting numbers down, but do not give up the fight. Sometimes it is a marathon; take it one day and one-step at a time. Together we can beat Prostate Cancer and create a generation that has one number in common, Zero.

The post How Numbers Have Affected My Life appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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You have Cancer. Treatable but not curable. These are words that no one wants to hear in the course of their lives. Five years ago I heard those very words.

Like most folks, my immediate reaction was “Nah, not me. I’m in great shape. We should get another opinion.” Then came anger, self-pity, the why-me question, and all the emotions that come along with hearing this news. Well that lasted for about two days.

I’ve done some crazy things since my diagnosis, and the numbers tell MY story. One Ironman. Two marathons. One 70.3. Three treadmill challenges, not including my attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for most miles on a treadmill in a month. And finally, one long run across the U.S. while doing talks on Prostate Cancer Awareness.  This year, I am doing a 70.3, the 120-mile TransRockies Run and one more full Ironman.

Others tell me I’m an inspiration, but I’m not. I am an example. An example of a man that ignored the symptoms that could have prevented this situation. An example that prostate cancer doesn’t care if you are a doctor, lawyer, policeman, or athlete.

One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s estimated there will be 175,000 new prostate cancer diagnoses in 2019. A simple blood test can save your life. Don’t hesitate to get tested today.

The post The Numbers Tell My Story appeared first on ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

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