Harry Pinchot Awardee: Phil Olsen
Edited from Insights February 2014 Vol. 17 Iss. 1| By Jan Manarite | PCRI Senior Educational Facilitator
I loved hearing Dr. Lurvey speak of how he knew Harry Pinchot, as he presented the award to Phil Olsen, PCRI’s 2013 winner at the September Conference. An award which bears a person’s name should represent that person well. Phil Olsen does. I also knew Harry, who lost his PC battle in 2008. I believe he would have been proud of Phil for receiving this award. They were fellow-advocates and friends.
The list of Phil’s contributions to the world of prostate cancer is almost too long to list. His journey started with a misdiagnosis in 1989, before the PCRI existed. He was declared metastatic in 1993. His zeal for learning turned his battle into a meaningful journey that would both extend his life and change it for the better. In 1998, Phil joined and led an UsTOO Support group in Hawaii which continues to this day. In 1999 he began attending PCRI’s annual conferences – possibly making him our most frequent attendee. That same year, he was appointed Regional Director of UsTOO in Hawaii. From 2001 to 2006, Phil traveled the state to help initiate many other support groups. In 2005, he went on to found the Hawaii Prostate Cancer Coalition, part of the NASPCC.
My favorite memory of Phil is when he showed up in Washington DC on June 4th, 2007 to participate in a march on Capitol Hill which involved multiple prostate cancer organizations. We were known that day as Raise A Voice. I organized this march, and I still remember seeing him and realizing he came from Hawaii, and I thought to myself…do I have a gold star? Twelve hours of flying – really? I remember the smile on his face, and the hat he was wearing. He was simply proud to be there. Funny – because I wish I would have had an award to give him then, for being the person who traveled the farthest to be part of a march in DC.
Phil’s contributions have not ceased. They include public speaking, spearheading Hawaii’s recognition of PC Awareness Month, participating in DOD funding reviews, and engaging Hawaii’s Congressional delegation in important discussions about the United States Preventative Service Task Force’s recommendation against PSA screening.
Now at age 83, his involvement, and contributions continue. He is a prime representation of tireless advocacy, and of Harry Pinchot’s own work. Congratulations Phil – from all of us at PCRI.