If your life hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way, you’re in a very small, and very fortunate, minority. Most of us have a family member, friend, or co-worker who has been afflicted by some form of the disease. And of course, our pets aren’t immune to cancer, either. Cancer is the leading cause of death in cats and dogs over ten years old.
There are probably hundreds of worthwhile organizations that provide support for cancer patients, but for me, Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG© Foundation has always had a special significance.
In 2001, at age 78, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Lance Armstrong, and his battle with testicular cancer, provided the inspiration that helped my dad conquer the disease. A lifelong fan of cycling, and of the Tour de France in particular, my dad was fascinated with Lance Armstrong. When my dad told me about his diagnosis and that he had to undergo six weeks of radiation treatments, one of the first things he said was “I’m going to beat this. If Lance Armstrong can beat cancer and win the Tour de France, I can go through this and get better, too!” And he did, and enjoyed three more happy and relatively healthy years until he died in 2004.
While my dad was going through his treatments, I wrote to Lance’s Foundation. I thought they’d enjoy hearing the story of an old man in Germany being inspired by Lance Armstrong. They responded by sending a lovely, personalized package to my dad – a photo autographed by Lance, a LIVESTRONG© t-shirt, and several informational pamphlets. My dad was touched and thrilled, as was I.
The foundation designated October 2, the anniversary of Lance’s cancer diagnosis, as LIVESTRONG© Day 2010. It is meant to be a day of global action, a day to celebrate survivorship and to commit to working toward a world without cancer. It is meant to raise awareness of the millions of people around the world who live with cancer.
And because cancer affects cats, too, Milo and Alfie, two mellow, yellow cats from England, are spreading the word about LIVESTRONG Day 2010 on their blog, The Cat’s Meow.
I’m not much for wearing colored bracelets to show my support for one cause or another, and yellow is not my color, so I won’t be wearing yellow on October 2 to support this event. But I will spend some time remembering, and celebrating, all the friends and family members, both human and furry, who have been affected by cancer. I will be remembering my dad. And I will say a prayer of gratitude for Lance Armstrong, for inspiring an old man halfway around the world to live a few more years.
Graphic created by Milo and Alfie.
You may also enjoy reading Lance Armstrong and the Power of Belief.