We are entering the final push in the TDF. It’s been tough but fantastic being here, again, supporting the team and competing with the world’s best riders. And throughout it, I’ve seen something amazing: overwhelming support for making cancer a global priority.
Throughout the Tour, our great friends at Nike have been doing brilliantly creative work to support the spirit of the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Campaign. LIVESTRONG gear is everywhere, the Nike Chalkbot is spreading the Hope Rides Again word and proceeds from the Nike Stages art project are fueling attention to this cause.
The reporting and coverage I’ve caught glimpses of are tremendous, too. Many people still don’t seem to know that cancer will be the leading cause of death globally by next year. Hopefully, our efforts throughout this season and throughout this campaign will help raise awareness of this rapidly expanding global health crisis.
Already, so many people are thoroughly engaged in building a global grassroots movement. Survivors all over the world face tough challenges, and the enthusiasm of our delegates participating in the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit is exciting. More than 300 advocates from 65 countries will gather in Dublin next month with 500 attendees in total, all with the goal of spurring progress against this disease. Looking forward to that has been, for me, a highlight in recent weeks.
And throughout 2009 and this Tour, I’ve been inspired by the tenacity of U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. His recent reflections in Newsweek make clear that social justice must be the underlying principle for healthcare reform, an idea LIVESTRONG seeks to embody, just as he has throughout his career. And there’s a lot of reform that needs to happen. Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more than any other industrialized country on health care, we do not achieve better outcomes on leading health indicators like infant mortality and average life span. Too many Americans live without health insurance (and I was once a member of that club). Too many people don’t have access to care. It’s simply inexcusable.
I know mountain climbs pretty well. What President Obama and others are encouraging in the United States with healthcare is a tough climb ? no doubt. To Senator Kennedy’s point, though, we have a chance right now to initiate a major shift in our healthcare system. If we succeed in making a significant and substantial change, it will be the first in three generations. It is the common expectation in many countries that every citizen should have access to quality, affordable healthcare, part of a moral investment in social justice. Why not in the United States as well?
While LIVESTRONG works to create change by shining a spotlight on the 28 million survivors across the world, we will not make true progress until we have systems globally that put people first.
In Dublin next month, LIVESTRONG will unite in seeking solutions, in abandoning what we know no longer works and by building the political will for significant progress. The common expectation of social justice through health, across all borders, is a mountain worth climbing.
To join our efforts to fight cancer globally, visit LIVESTRONG Action.