The question I have been asked most frequently these past few weeks is "Why is this fight against prostate cancer so important to you?" Prostate cancer has been a struggle that I have bared witness to my entire life by three of the men who have all had a profound impact on my life: My Grandpop Peter, 'Pop Pop' and my Father. Let me explain...
Grandpop Peter, who was my father's step-father, was a brillant patent who excelled in his industry and a wonderfully kind hearted person. A product of the commonwealth, he was born in Australia and later moved to Canada where he founded his Patenting Firm. Visiting him and my Grandmother throughout my childhood I have fond memories of trying new cuisines, exploring Parliament, and an learning a lesson in etiquette while enjoying tea at the Château Laurier. While my brothers and I were still very young Grandpop Peter was diagnosed with Prostate cancer that had metastasized to his back and was given 2 years to live. However, despite his bad prognosis Peter fought the cancer for a very successful ten years and kept the quality of his life very high through those years. When cancer finally took hold of him and Grandpop passed away it was a very emotional passing for everyone. Grandpop Peter was someone who opened my eyes to the history, foods, and cultures that today have become a part of the interests and passions that remain close to who I am today. For him I fight prostate cancer.
'Pop-Pop' (as he has affectionately been known by myself and all my cousins for the last twenty years) is my Mother's Father and was diagnosed with prostate cancer when I was very very young and successfully has kept the cancer in remission for well over a decade now. Pop-Pop was born in Susquehanna, PA, home of the psychologist B.F. Skinner, he lost his father at a young age and became the product of the railroad industry and grew up working on and around the railroad while being raised by his widowed mother; I believe this is where his relentless work-ethic developed. He attended Mount Saint Mary's College and met my Grandmother while enrolled, after a brief stint in the Marine Corp he pursued a career as a school psychologist and administrator for Susquehanna Valley Schools. He is now the proud grandfather of 11 grand kids and an active member of the Knights of Columbus. It's rare to travel within a 50 mile radius of Binghamton and not run into someone that knows him and my Grandmother. Pop Pop has forever been a voice a guidance and sound advice in my life; when I have had conflict within myself or taken issue with others actions he is someone who I have and will continue to turn to for his wisdom. A great deal of my self-determination and moral convictions stem from Pop Pop. For him I fight prostate cancer.
My father has unquestionably been the biggest role model in my life throughout my twenty years. My Dad had something of a dysfunctional childhood, his parents split when he was young and thusly he, like many children of divorced parents spent a lot of time traveling: spending the summer with one parent, the school year another and the occasional month with a particularly hilarious Aunt in Atlantic City. He put himself through college at SUNY Oneonta where he met my Mother. After the two graduated they lived in Boston for a number of years and got married, they then moved to Ithaca where my Dad enrolled in and graduated from Cornell Law School. After he graduated and passed the bar exam they moved to Liverpool, NY and I came along very shortly after. My brothers, not wanting to be left behind, entered the world about 2 1/2 years later. Pop', as I usually refer to him, is one of the hardest working men in the world he is incredibly determined and has a fantastic sense of humor. The amazing thing about Dad is the profound compassion that he has for people and in-particular his loved ones.
During January of my freshman year in college my father was rather suddenly diagnosed with prostate cancer; thanks to my father's intuition to get checked earlier then most doctors recommend which led to the early recognition of the cancer and my mother's amazing ability to leap into action, get all information she needed and formulate a plan of attack amazingly within two months he had beat the cancer and was back to work! I am who I am today because of my Pop. He's been there for all my wins and all my losses both on and off the water over the years and I'm proud of him and look up to him, not only for beating cancer, but for overcoming all the struggles in his life. For him I fight prostate cancer.