In Honor of David Emerson 1963-2012

First diagnosed at age 42, David was given seven years to make an indelible mark in the prostate cancer advocacy world. He passed away on Friday, October 5, 2012.

We have lost a friend, a brother and an inspiration with David’s Passing.

I first had the honor of meeting David in Washington, D.C. more than two years ago when he and his wife attended PCF’s Survivor’s Breakfast as part of our Advance on Washington. There are some people you meet and instantly sense their goodness. David was one of them. I was taken by his unbridled optimism and selfless commitment to so many of our brothers as he worked for increased awareness, supported advocacy and raised crucial funds to keep research moving forward.

David was diagnosed at age 42. His prostate cancer was aggressive and had metastasized to his bones and lymph nodes. In one of his his first blog entries he wrote: “I’ve got it. My instant thought–I do not want to die, this is harder than expected. Pray for me…”

He was given seven more years of life during which he fought his cancer with vigor. He set an example for fellow patients by participating in multiple clinical trials including abiraterone (Zytiga) and XL184 (cabozantinib) which are now approved–thanks in part to David’s participation–for use by patients around the world. In calls and emails, I was always amazed by the schedule he kept just flying around the country to keep up with the trials. Yet, David also managed to carve out time and energy to found the Faith, Love Hope, Win (FLHW) Foundation to raise awareness and funding for research to find better treatments and ultimately cures for advanced prostate cancer. In all, FLHW raised more than $200,000 to support research funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation. On top of it all, he also found the time and strength to make multiple visits to Capitol Hill to lobby for prostate cancer research.

David on his way to Capitol Hill with our fellow PCa brothers, Tony Crispino (left) and Craig Pynn (center).

I remember breaking into tears and having to cut my day in the office short when he posted on his Facebook in July that he was about to start chemo. The picture that stared back at me was not the David I knew. I prayed that this would not be the beginning of his final downward spiral. Unfortunately for all of  is, it was. I drove home once again in tears on Friday when I heard the news of David’s passing.

On his blog, David wrote about the formation of his Foundation:

My Foundation, FLHW, was named with the three core principles I believe we need in order to win the battle against advanced prostate cancer:

Faith is first and foremost. In addition to one’s faith in God, it is essential to have faith in doctors, medicine, family, and friends. A testament to faith is my ability to believe in the midst of being diagnosed with this deadly disease, that something good will ultimately result from this experience.

Love is the next component that I believe is essential in this battle. There are many forms of love, the love of God, love of one’s spouse, love of children and family, love of friends. Love is a natural feeling that enriches people’s lives. It is an emotion that is frequently thought about, but not always shown or expressed. The success of the FLHW Foundation exemplifies the outpouring of love from total strangers to those afflicted with advanced prostate cancer.

David left this world surrounded by the love of family and friends–even strangers. This photo was posted by his son on Facebook last week.

The third component we strive to maintain in order to win our battle is hope. Without hope, we as humans would struggle to survive. Hope is what gets us up in the morning and enables us to face a new day and hope is what allows us to sleep well at night. Personally, I have hope for a cure; hope for surviving another day, another week, another year, and beyond.

David was an a true inspiration. He cared immensely for every man and family affected by this disease.

David: You instilled Faith in us. You filled us with Love. And, above all, you have given us Hope. You were a true man among men. Know that we will carry on the fight so one day all men can WIN their battle.

Friend and brother in cancer, I wish you peace.

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15 Responses to “In Honor of David Emerson 1963-2012”

  1. Not knowing David personally… I can only imagine the man he was… and from what I have read and learned about him… He stood proud and tall…. May G-d give his family the strength to carry on… and May G-d Hold our Brother at his side in honor… till we will meet again… G-d Rest His Soul… Amen…

  2. I didn’t know him either but have seen him and heard of his wonderful work in spreading the word about this disease. I know he will be missed by many as I have heard nothing but great things about him and will keep him and his family and friends in my prayers! RIP Brother!

  3. Dave will be missed. We met only a short time ago, but he was an inspiration to me to continue the fight against prostate cancer. Rest well, Dave

  4. As I read this I will say that his non profit organization I will always support and recommend. I met David only online and read on his blogs and my buddy Terence Luttrell’s blog. I have learned alot from them both. Now both of them gone and having other brothers that deal with this on a day to day basis. My work now has begun. I just pray everyday that one day no one will have to battle prostate cancer.. I will work on this for the rest of my days. David even though we didn’t meet in person Thank you for all you have taught me. The fight is on. I am with the rest of my brothers. Fight to find a cure … until our last day.

  5. Never having met David does not mean one can’t grieve over the loss of his work and his influence–and to grieve for his family and friends, which includes you, Dan.

    So, I grieve even at a distance.

  6. David you were taken way too soon from this Earth. But you did more during your short time than most…but we will continue the fight and spread the word! Deepest sympathy to the family.

  7. David,
    You have left this life and your loved ones much too soon and you will be missed by all…I don’t have the words other that I will continue to fight for our brothers that are no longer able to. My deepest sympathy to Mary and the Emerson family. God bless.

  8. His wife, Mary, said it best in the final blog entry: “He valiantly fought not only his personal battle, but chose to pursue the battle on behalf of men fighting the disease, as well as all men who had the potential to be at risk. He was passionate about sharing his knowledge and the raw emotions of his personal experience.”

    I met David only once at the 2011 Project Zero Summit, but his enthusiasm and passion for this cause were infectious.

    I am honored to be able to describe David’s contribution next week at the PCRP Peer Review Meeting plenary session before a roomful of scientists and consumer reviewers in Reston, VA as we remember David and the 28,000 other men (including my friend Bill), who have died this past year of this cursed disease in a Moment of Silence.

  9. My deepest sympathy to David’s family and friends. I did not know David either, but he sounds like a truly good person and a tireless advocate who has made a difference in many lives. Peace on your journey David.

  10. Prayers sent to his family and friends. Thank you to David for his fight! Hate to hear that we lost a great Warrior.

  11. Dan, thank you. As a friend of David’s I know he would have liked it. But also I loved it. That photo of Brad and David holding hands is one I could not bring myself to replicate on my blog page. But it was just because I didn’t know Brad personally. He made a post and it will stay in my mind forever ~ one of love. We move on. Our cause defined by David Emerson. A true American hero!

  12. My thought will always be with his family, he might a an Angel now but his voice will live on!

  13. My heart breaks for the family of this courageous man. I too have a husband fighting this battle. In 2009, he had his first biospy , his PSA had doubled in a year, second one 3 months later both negative, but PIN, was found in both samples. Slides were sent to John Hopkins for a second opinion. The call that every husband and wife fears came on the tenth of March 2010-the big C, a very aggressive cancer. Surgery scheduled on April 20, 2010, surgery stopped cancer had spread to the uretha, the neck of the bladder and inside of the bladder. A very compassionate and concerned surgeon, stopped the surgery to consult with others and to give my husband a opportunity to have input. After having the first of many hormone treatments, that worked until December of 2011, he has had 33 treatments of radiations, that got rid of the cancer in the prostate and neck of the bladder and most but not all of the cancer in the bladder, that same year he had a cystoscophy to check to see what the radiation had killed- some still in the bladder. Next treatment Provenge- started in February of this year, that didn’t work- next cystoscophy- cancer in the uretha- next treatment Taxatere. That failed also. On the September 20, he received his first months dosage of the recently approved Xtandi. In three months they will test to see if this shrinking the tumors that have now traveled to the liver. As born again Christians we know that God has a plan for all of our lives. His timing is always perfect, so we “Be still and know that I am God”. Psalm 46:10. For all of those brave men and their wives that are making this journey know that God knows your pain and will give you the strength and grace to make this journey and His Word tells us to”Fear not, for I will never leave you or forsake you”. My husband is still fighting and so am I, we have not given up hope and don’t you. We have been blessed to have wonderful doctors who have sought treatments that have given Jerry a fairly good quality of life. We will pray for all of you as we travel with us and many others on this journey. Thank You,

  14. I was traveling and just returned to find this email. I met David at the Advance on Washington two years ago and was shocked that a man so young could have such advanced metatastic prostate cancer. I believe he was in the midst of hormone deprevation therapy and it was through him that I fully realized the extent of the effects of such therapy.

    He was strong and positive. I only met him once but never forgot our discussions.

    David

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    [...] the last person I thought it might be would be Mary Emerson. It’s only been two months since David lost his battle to prostate cancer. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Mary and her family had decided to take a break from [...]