Stan, a 34 year Hodgkin’s cancer survivor, rode the 100 mile ride in LIVESTRONG Challenge San Jose last year and was invited to the Ride for the Roses in October. He raised $15,000 to help LIVESTRONG address the global cancer burden. We received an email from Stan this week about a trip he recently took to Southeast Asia and thought it would be cool to share.
“We took a trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia a few months ago, it was a great trip. I always take something to give to people especially the kids, this time, in the spirit of spreading the LIVESTRONG cause globally, I gave out bracelets to people. They loved getting them, especially the kids, we were very surprised at how many people knew what they are, they don’t know who the president of the U.S. is but they know who Lance is.
There is a very strong anti-smoking program in Southeast Asia,they put pictures of burned out lungs on the boxes of cigarettes. I will send you some pictures of those, and I also have a picture of a billboard in Laos proclaiming the city of Luong Prabong as smoke free. We saw very few people smoking, mostly Europeans, and we heard locals telling tourists, in English “no smoking”
Something like 70% of the population in Vietnam are under the age of 35. Imagine a city of several million young people (Hanoi), all on motor scooters,often entire families on one scooter,3 or 4 people including the pets,chickens,ducks, pigs,furniture,even the kitchen sink, all honking horns, ignoring traffic signs and having fun. It creates a river of people moving throughout the city that has a palpable energy, and is very unique. Once you learn to cross the street without fearing for your life and just step off the curb, walking at a steady pace so scooters can flow around you, you begin to understand that it is just a game,and a lifestyle. The city truly has an energy like nowhere else in the world.
Cambodia is a very different story. Hardly an hour goes by that you don’t see someone who has been badly injured by a land mine, people missing arms,and legs. We met people who don’t know their parents,or when they were born, who were given a weapon and taught to fight as children. The scars of the “social experiment” of the Khamir rouge regime still linger. Yet, we found these people to be incredibly easy going and resilient, most of the kids speak English and want to talk and learn more, they want to play like any kid. We gave them bracelets and I played tic-tac-toe in the dirt with many kids, I didn’t have to let them win either.
As a cancer survivor a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about how fortunate I am to have a life, let alone a great one. Seeing how these people are still striving to get past the incredible hardships that were thrust upon them not so long ago was truly an experience that made me appreciate and understand the strength of the human spirit even more.”
Cancer Statistics for Vietnam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Cambodia:
In 2005 CANCER killed approximately 71,000 people in Viet Nam 38,000 of those people were under the age of 70
In 2005 CANCER killed approximately 4,400 people in Lao People’s Democratic Republic 3,000 of those people were under the age of 70
In 2005 CANCER killed approximately 11,000 people in Cambodia 9,000 of those people were under the age of 70
* Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide: it accounted for 7.9 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2007.
* Lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer cause the most cancer deaths each year.
* The most frequent types of cancer differ between men and women.
* About 30% of cancer deaths can be prevented.
* Tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for cancer.
* Cancer arises from a change in one single cell. The change may be started by external agents and inherited genetic factors.
* About 72% of all cancer deaths in 2007 occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
* Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 12 million deaths in 2030.