DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Debbie Zelman
Tom Hulsey

Tom Hulsey has always been proactive with his health, which includes getting his PSA checked annually. After years of no changes, Tom’s PSA started to rise in 2014. A biopsy on his 61st birthday confirmed the three words you never want to hear from your doctor: “you have cancer”. Besides the initial shock, he was embarrassed and ashamed. He was the picture of health. He had completed 9 Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run) and was a professional hockey instructor. His motto has always been, “life is not a spectator sport”.

He was also very scared following his diagnosis, having just witnessed one of his best friends, Bill Rollings, lose his own battle with prostate cancer. Like Tom, Bill got his yearly PSA screening, which was normal through 2007. Bill was happy, healthy, and in great physical shape with no symptoms suggesting anything was wrong. He skipped his annual physical in 2008 and when he went to the doctor in 2009, was diagnosed with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. After four years of treatments and fighting for his life, Bill was told his cancer was incurable and succumbed to this horrible disease in 2013.

With the fear and embarrassment he was feeling about his own disease, Tom did not tell anyone he had prostate cancer until his wife Lauren encouraged him to go public with the news 13 months later. To both honor his friend Bill and to help others diagnosed with prostate cancer, Tom joined the consumer group ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer. He raised over $32,000 in 2016 and represented ZERO when he raced the Ironman Lake Placid and the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, keeping Bill in his mind every step of the way.

Tom was nominated by ZERO to serve as a peer reviewer for the Prostate Cancer Research Program, and participated twice in 2017. In the first panel, he was admittedly intimidated by all of the scientists, although he quickly realized that his voice and vote really counted and his “lived experience” was sincerely valued by the scientific reviewers. At the start of the second panel, he was honored to give the Moment of Silence, remembering his dear friend Bill.

Tom continues to help and inspire men diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was recently appointed to the Board of Directors at ZERO and volunteers at the Baylor Scott & White Cancer Health & Wellness Center, where he helps patients through their journey with prostate cancer and serves as a fitness instructor. He is also currently authoring a book about his experience with plans to donate the proceeds to cancer research. Tom feels that all of his efforts in the prostate cancer community work to support the research made possible by the PCRP, and the patients that will one day benefit from the advancements made possible by that research.

Last updated Tuesday, February 20, 2018