In Honor of David Emerson 1963-2012
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.
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.
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.