History of WSPCC

The original mission of the coalition was to make prostate cancer a number one healthcare priority in the state.  Our founding chairman, former state legislator Paul Sanders, led the organization for nearly a decade in reaching out to community leaders, hosting free prostate cancer screenings in Olympia, actively representing the state at national activities of the National Alliance for State Prostate Cancer Coalitions and raising funds for the fight against prostate cancer.  In late 2012, the coalition chairmanship was transferred to John Ross.  Mr. Ross succumbed to prostate cancer February 3, 2015.  He was the former co-chair of Washington State Prostate Cancer Task Force, co-chair of the SPORE prostate cancer program patient advocacy committee at the University of Washington and co-leader of one of the longest running prostate cancer support groups in the state. During his two-year leadership Mr. Ross successfully brought all of the prostate cancer support groups together for the first annual support group leadership workshop and initiated the first statewide effort for individual cities and towns to proclaim September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.  His vision was to make the WSPCC the “communication hub” for all activities and efforts concerning prostate cancer in Washington State.  With the loss of chairman John Ross, Vice Chairman Debi Johnson and prostate cancer survivor Bob Freeborn (co-support group leader of one of the state’s largest support groups) resumed the leadership of the organization.   During 2015, the co-chairmen continued the work laid down in the previous decade.  December 2015, Mr. Freeborn stepped down as co-chair to become the coalition’s new Secretary/Treasurer after the death of the coalition’s original Treasurer, Bill Gilcrease.  The change in leadership position also allowed for improved liaison communication between the needs of support groups and the coalition.

January 2016, Ms. Johnson became the acting chair of the coalition until a new chair could be voted upon by members of the coalition.  She is nationally recognized for her advocacy work in prostate cancer and men’s health for more than two decades.  Her network of prostate cancer advocates expanded significantly in 2004 with the creation of a strategic plan to bring all stakeholders together for the passage of a state law to insure coverage of prostate cancer screening when a patient and healthcare provider deemed the screening to be medically necessary.  February 2016, the coalition secured administrative assistance for all support group leaders in the state as well as the newly formed advisory council of all stakeholders.  Ms. Johnson plans to expand the women’s initiative on prostate cancer project along with the proclamation campaigns, joint coalition partner projects (ex. MPower Prostate Cancer Registry at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center) and advocacy needs identified by the new advisory council.


In the coming years and thru the work of the newly formed advisory council, Ms. Johnson envisions the WSPCC will be the centralized location for all communication concerning:

1)     Washington state’s prostate cancer research

2)     Current list of healthcare provider specializing in prostate cancer

3)     Survivorship and thrivorship resources

4)     Outreach activities to raise awareness

5)     Advocacy efforts to preserve access to clinical trials, diagnostic tools, treatment options


Washington state is home to nationally and internationally recognized research efforts, healthcare providers, organizations and prostate cancer survivor advocates.  The state consists of employers with local, regional and national reputations for their employee wellness programs.


Together we will improve and save the lives of men in our state through collaborative communication, advocacy and action!

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