Inspiring Email


Greetings to all-

Please allow me to send a different type of blog today. This is not your normal update. No no, this is far more personal.

Back when we started the LAF it was basically just College and me as well as a few committed volunteers, one of which ended up being employee #2 of the LAF. That person was Elizabeth Kreutz. Elizabeth is someone I met when I first came to Austin and has always been a dear friend. Little did we know at the time that she was an amazing photographer. She never told us that! She now takes all of our pics for us at the LAF and shoots various sporting events all over the world. She has gone on to win numerous awards and, oh yeah, takes the Xmas card picture of me and the kids. For those of you who follow LAF closely you will know Elizabeth well.

I’m including an email exchange between Elizabeth and me that occurred a few days ago. In Eliz’s original email she included some pictures of her beloved Aunt Phoebe as she battled late stage lung cancer. The pictures hit me like a ton of bricks. How in the hell can something so fierce come along and steal a life like this?? The pictures made it all so vivid and real to me, as you too will see.

I have encouraged Elizabeth to pursue her dream of capturing these images (w/ willing survivors of course) in order to do two things: first, remind us all that we are still dealing with the biggest killer in this country. And second, if the bastard gets us, we can and do pass with dignity, strength, and beauty. Like all coaches say, they never lose a game, time just runs out.

It’s our job as a society to make sure that time doesn’t run out on a human life.


Message From: Lance Armstrong
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 12:42:53 -0600
To: Elizabeth Kreutz
Subject: Re: Photos of Phoebe


Wow, to say that I am speechless would be a gross understatement. I am literally in tears. These images are incredibly moving especially when coupled with your beautiful words. Bless you and bless her.

Yes, there are many evils here…. from the malignant cell to big tobacco to a healthcare system that many say is jacked up. This is what we must fix and what I have committed myself to do or try to do.

But even I have days when I say, damn, what am I doing? The weather sure is nice in Mexico right now, why aren’t I there? I have these moments often. The trick is that “often” is not a measure of time. “Often” is a number and not time so while they may be often they only last a few seconds then I’m back to, alright, screw this. I’m not losing this war.
Those moments last minutes, hours, days, months. That’s what keeps me going. Seeing your aunt really stirs many emotions in me. Like you, I get mad, sad, inspired, and most importantly, competitive. I’m in this for the long haul. Trust me.

Thanks for all of your help and friendship. And btw, I do think a series of photos (with willing survivors) as they face their final days would be awfully powerful. We should do that. Think about it, you see it every day on the cover of the NYT yet it’s Iraq, Darfur, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. Why not show the true devastation of THIS was?? You can be the woman that does that. You go girl.

All my love forever.

Message From: Elizabeth Kreutz
Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 12:12 PM
To: Lance Armstrong
Subject: Photos of Phoebe


Yesterday was exciting and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of it.

As you know I lost my Aunt Phoebe to lung cancer in April of 2006. The cancer spread fast and she died at the age of 53. She was beautiful, smart, and successful and was a huge inspiration to me. Cancer didn’t care. She had been a longtime smoker and smoked cigarettes until the end. I have mixed emotions about her cancer, brought on by this lifelong habit. It seems like such a waste. She was a concert pianist at Juilliard and then worked her way up to be the first woman partner at Morgan Stanley. She was amazing.

It is so important to fight this disease but to also fight the tobacco industry as well. I was particularly moved to hear that Mayor Bloomberg and Dr. Carmona are joining you to make this fight a priority.

I think the best way I can help join the fight is through my photography and documenting people’s journey with cancer. Photos of cancer survivors who have triumphed over cancer are very important, but I believe the photos of the cancer patients who are in the process of fighting cancer and what they have to go through are equally important. The fact is cancer is killing millions of people and that is why we are here today. I am brainstorming with Jen Long on a possible photo documentary on lung cancer patients and their fight with cancer and the involvement with the LAF. You don’t see those photos very often and I think that even though they are sometimes hard to look at, they are so important.

When I visited Phoebe in the month before she died, I was initially taken aback by the physical transformation. I wasn’t sure how she would feel about having her picture taken but one night when we were massaging her feet and painting her toes, I told her this was a Kodak moment and she smiled and was happy to have me photograph her – exposed, sick and hurting. She knew she was dying and knew that I loved her and wanted to capture her one last time. Looking back I wish I had spent more time with her, documenting her journey with cancer.

When I look at these photos, they stir up many emotions – happiness, love, thankfulness, sadness, regret, anger, confusion. But most of all they inspire me. They inspire me to act, to fight, to do my part to help end the suffering.

I want to share a few photos of my aunt Phoebe with you when she was in hospice care at her home.

Thank you for all you do and will do.



  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for posting this! The photos are moving, powerful and memorable. I only wish I had the same kind of record of my Dad.
    I met Liz at LiveStrong Philly in 2006 and correspond with her occasionally. she took some awesome photos of me and my mom at the ranch during RFTR weekend in Austin last October.
    I had the very brief pleasure of meeting you last year; so this year I have set myself a goal of raising $50,000 for the LAF so I can ride with you, too; this is my fourth year as a fundraiser, following the 2005 deaths of my Dad and Stepmom.
    Keep up the great work!!!!
    By theway, I am now reading Lance Armstrong’s War by Daniel Coyle. Thanks for letting him in!

  2. Linda Jellison says:

    I think it’s a great idea to have photos of loved ones lost to cancer. It is a loving tribute to those lost. I wish my own aunt would stop smoking. Thank you Elizabeth for your wonderful talent, and thank you Lance for continuing to fight this war against cancer, such a deadly killer.

  3. Kelsey Winzeler says:

    These photos are beautiful! My friend kayla is only 19 years old and was just diagnosed with brain cancer and only has 3 months to live according to the doctors. She started out with leukemia but then the doctors gave her the wrong medicine for her blood type and she started get tumors in her heart and brain. She had 8 seizures yesterday and has lived the most difficult life I could ever imagine. Her mom just got finished battling cancer and overcame it but now her 19 year old daughter has been diagnosed with only 3 months to live. Throughout all this tragedy and sadness, Kayla is one of the happiest and nicest people I have ever met in my whole entire life. She wants to keep doing school because it makes her so extremely happy. She is such a trooper and everytime I feel down about something that is not a big deal I think of her and all that she has been through and I stop feeling sad. I took this picture of her
    when she first told me she had cancer. I am going to do a whole series of photos of this beautiful girl to always remind me of what an inspiration she truely is.

    and lance, I met you at the celebrity golf tournament in South Lake Tahoe last year (you let me be your caddy) and you were so sweet. Thank you for letting me hang out with you.

    Kelsey Winzeler

  4. Lance ~

    My son, Nicholas, is and has T-cell Leukemia. He was diagnosed two days after his birthday in September 2007. He is currently at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. He has battled so many extenuating circumstances during the last six months in addition to the Leukemia. Your book was recently given to him as a gift and I have been unable to put it down. There are so many similarities between your battle and his. Nick also had to have brain surgery and just underwent lung surgery March 25 for fungus in his right lower lobe. He has suffered Staph infection, septic shock, other fungal lesions in his brain and spine, neuropathy to where he still can’t walk without assistance, not to mention weight loss to a horrifying 74 pounds! But yet, he fights to win and doesn’t give up.

    Your relationship with your mother touched me because it mirrors the relationship Nick and I share. I have taken so much from your book that has reinforced the positive commitment my son and I have made to beat his cancer. Thank you for being so honest and open about your experience. People who have never been through this war really don’t understand what it does to the person with cancer and their families. I could associate completely with your story. I have been keeping a journal for Nick at It has been therapy for me to write about where we started, how far we’ve come and how far we’ve still yet to go. You’re absolutely right when you say that fighting cancer is the easy part. The survivorship will be the toughest. The one year waiting period to be “cancer free” will be excruciating.

    Nick will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant soon. He has no sibling, so we are blessed to have an anonymous donar. We will be hours away from our home and family all summer to undergo transplant and post transplant recovery. But, my motto is “short term loss for long term gain.” The inspiration I gained from reading your story has been a shot in the arm for me to continue to fight and be strong for my son. I can never personally thank the person who donated bone marrow for saving my son’s life, but I can thank people like you for helping fight against this terrible disease. God bless all of the angels among us who help us to live strong.

    Terry Hermreck

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