About the Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum
One man's struggle led to the establishment of the Forum:
In June 2002, Charlie Hill, a founding member of the Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum (The Forum) was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In December 2002, Mr. Hill underwent nerve sparing surgery to remove his prostate gland at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. The period between June 2002 and December 2002 brought front and center a disturbing reality for Mr. Hill.
That reality was the medical community had varying points of view regarding the best way to treat prostate cancer due to the many treatment modalities available. Feedback from the physicians indicates that it is difficult for any physician to tell men with potentially “curable” prostate cancer which form of treatment is the best. Due to these various options, many men have difficulty making a decision on what to do at this very difficult time in their lives. As Mr. Thomas Farrington, author of Battling the Killer Within and its sequel Battling the Killer Within and Winning with whom Mr. Hill consulted stated, “There were no universally accepted standards as to what actually defines a cure”.
Mr. Hill wanted a cure! He was the primary caregiver for his wife who lost a 17 month battle with lung cancer in June 2002. So his discovery that the lack of a universally accepted standard for treatment to cure and even treatment in general led him to talk with a wide range of people. This group included other patients, their family members, urologists, oncologists, internists, and other doctors, hospital administrators, nurses, pharmaceutical company representatives, and others who had an interest in the subject.
In 2006, Mr. Hill interviewed Dr. Mark Fleming, a medical oncologist with expertise in prostate cancer, who was new at that time to the Hampton Roads area. Dr. Fleming shared Mr. Hill’s passion for organizing a program to save lives of patients dying from prostate cancer. Seeking collaboration and commitment, Mr. Hill’s interview resulted in additional meetings with Dr. Fleming, Dr. Richard Rento, a respected urologist with more than twenty years of experience in treating and caring for men with Prostate Cancer, and Golden Bethune, a Nurse and Hospital Executive who cared for patients and family members including her father with prostate cancer challenges. Also attending the initial meetings was Kicheko Driggins, a public relations expert with Virginia Oncology who shared the group’s interest in this area. Ms. Driggins was very helpful in offering her marketing expertise to the group.
This core group met several times and decided to organize the Forum. Initially, the group focused on helping other men navigate the medical community and on reducing the number of men who suffer and die needlessly from prostate cancer.
The founding members decided that due to the regional history, a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization would increase the group’s chances for success. The group concluded that the non-profit organization would provide a non-competitive forum that would allow member organizations to fully engage and exchange expertise or ideas without the distractions that usually accompany undertakings like this.
In the spring of 2007, the group developed a position statement to capture and communicate the purpose and scope of the Forum. Founding members then invited representatives from regional health care organizations, Hampton Roads employers, and medical experts in prostate cancer to be a part of the Forum.
The first meeting of the proposed Board of Directors was held September 26, 2007.