Voices on Cancer is a Cancer.Net Blog series where advocates share their stories and the lessons they have learned about being a cancer advocate. Dennis Golden is a prostate cancer survivor and the CEO and founder of the National Prostate Cancer Awareness Foundation Inc. (PCaAWARE). He founded PCaAWARE to educate men and their partners about this disease that affects more than 160,000 men a year.
My advocacy story
Every year, the results of my annual physical exams were routine. My prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test results were normal. The digital rectal exam (DRE) found no signs to worry about. Like most men, I felt this meant that I was in the clear and that there was no need to ask additional questions.
That mindset changed in December 2012, when the results of a PSA blood test were elevated. At that point, my doctor suggested that it might be a good idea to visit the urologist. I dreaded the prospect of undergoing exams and tests that might make me feel embarrassed, but at my wife’s insistence, I made an appointment anyway. Several weeks later, the urologist confirmed that I had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. In April 2013, my prostate was surgically removed.
After that experience, I was driven to learn more about prostate cancer. I also wanted to discover how my professional speaking expertise could be used to help other men and their partners build awareness of prostate cancer and recognize the importance of talking with their doctors about whether screening is right for them. So, in 2014, I founded the National Prostate Cancer Awareness Foundation, or PCaAware. At its heart, PCaAware is a speaker’s bureau and our mission is to raise the level of awareness of prostate cancer nationwide. We have speakers go out and educate men and women about prostate cancer in the places where they work and gather.
Taking your talents and turning them into advocacy tools
I took my gifts as a professional speaker and used them to create PCaAware and serve its mission. Here are some ways you can review your unique talents and put them to work in your advocacy mission.
Ask yourself, “What is my gift?” I don’t mean your skills. Skills can be learned. A gift is something you are born with. What is one thing you do so naturally that you cannot explain it? My gift is speaking. I use my gift to make people aware of the power of living in the present. Find and use your gift.
Start every day with this question: “How will I engage people today to make difference?” At the end of the day, ask yourself what you did to make a difference. Using this motivation daily will force you to rely on the abilities that you have. Reviewing what you did each day will help you identify your talents.
Live in the present. Look at the abilities you have now, not at the skills you hope to have. Think about how your talents can be used to help others. Put yourself to work in bringing about change today.