Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Lance Armstrong Foundation – Leading the Fight Against Cancer

Last weekend (Jan 13-14) CNN ran a special “Saving Your Life” with Dr. Sanjay Gupta teaming up with Lance Armstrong in the fight against cancer. This show was taped while I was in Austin, TX for the LIVESTRONG Summit held by The Lance Armstrong Foundation. A majority of the audience were delegates from the summit. I missed out on the CNN special, but wish I had attended. It was a great show! It covered a range of topics such as, but not limited to;

  • How we already know early detection will reduce cancer related deaths yet we are not doing enough to see all Americans know what to look for. Statistically 33% of all cancer related deaths could have been prevented if caught early enough.
  • How Lance is campaigning for more government funds for cancer research and treatments. Not mentioned on the show is how the Lance Armstrong Foundation holds a yearly LIVESTRONG Day in Washington, D.C. The LAF selects two delegates from each state. The delegates then represent their state and meet state congressional leaders and discuss what they can do to help make cancer a national priority.
  • Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Top 10 tips for avoiding cancer -

The CNN special and the LIVESTRONG Summit are two ways The Lance Armstrong Foundation is spearheading the fight against cancer and how the LAF is succeeding in building an ARMY of people to help in the fight. The LIVESTRONG Summit itself was outstanding.

In October 2006 over 700 cancer survivors from across the country gathered in Austin, Texas, for the first LIVESTRONG Summit. Created and hosted by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), the LIVESTRONG Summit was a three-day event held Friday, Oct. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 29, designed to organize, inspire and direct the efforts of cancer survivors from across the country to change the face of cancer survivorship.

Led by a variety of notable speakers, including LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., chair of the President’s Cancer Panel and cancer survivors Senator John Kerry (Mass.), Elizabeth Edwards, author and wife of Senator John Edwards (N.C.), and Lance Armstrong, LIVESTRONG Summit delegates collaborated in regional groups to identify challenges, brainstorm possible solutions and develop personal action plans to broaden awareness and impact the unmet physical, emotional and practical needs of people living with cancer. Delegates are expected to take their knowledge back home and apply their action plans locally.

I was selected as a delegate for the summit and it changed my life. My personal action plan is always growing as there is always more that we can strive for. To date the following have been part of my overall goal to educate the public (more specifically kids) on types of cancer, early detection methods, obstacles survivors face and the practical realities of cancer diagnosis.

  1. Reach out to media to spread the word on the LIVESTRONG Summit, what is was about, what I am doing post summit and my own cancer experience. (completed - in two news papers)
  2. Create website that helps educate people on cancer and reviews the LIVESTRONG Summit. (completed - site changes weekly)
  3. Create a weblog that will help get the word out on cancer topics and help make cancer a national priority (completed)
  4. Create presentation to give during guest speaking. (completed)
  5. Work with high schools, colleges, hospitals and other outlets to arrange guest speaking. Targeting Marh 2007!
  6. Get involved in future LAF projects such as LIVESTRONG Day May 16, 2007. Applied to be a delegate for NJ, but regardless of being elected I will be in Washington, D.C. to support the LAF and all the cancer survivors.
  7. Create fundraising events for the LAF in 2007.

I am extremely proud to say I am one of the people in the army so is my wife Kristy, my daughter Caroline, my mother, my sisters, my grandparents and all of my friends and extended family. I communicate daily with other LIVESTRONG Summit delegates who are actively making cancer a priority in their local areas and state level.

Cancer will NOT fix itself! Cancer will NOT discriminate! Cancer will NOT care about your feelings! Cancer will NOT stop until we ensure every single person is educated on cancer related topics and the government dedicates more funds for research and treatments.

As a cancer survivor I am obligated to lead the fight against cancer. As I said to Ocean County Observer staff writer Carolynne Van Houten back in November, as she interviewed me for an article (A LIFE WELL-LIVED), “it's a shame that it took cancer to make me think about all that needs to be done. But now it's in my mind on a daily basis.” It should not take getting cancer to make us focus on the problem.

Unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything! LIVESTRONG!