LIVESTRONG Leaders are individuals that make a yearly significant commitment to those in their community affected by cancer by spreading the message of LIVESTRONG. They do this by fundraising, hosting events, bringing LIVESTRONG resources to their local hospitals and more. One of our amazing leaders from right here in Austin, Texas talks about why he has been involved with LIVESTRONG for the past 8 years and how he helps support others in the local cancer community.
What does LIVESTRONG mean to you?
LIVESTRONG is the eight dried yellow roses, one for each LIVESTRONG Challenge I have completed with my son, Spencer, since he was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) when he was four years old. LIVESTRONG is the second day of his treatment, when he started his plan to raise $25,000 for LIVESTRONG and go for a private bike ride with Lance Armstrong; it is one year later when we took that ride together two days after Spencer had spinal chemotherapy and a bone marrow aspiration. LIVESTRONG is when Spencer didn’t always have the energy to walk from his bedroom to our family room and asked to return to his martial arts lessons. LIVESTRONG is going for long hikes with Spencer when his immune system was weak from chemotherapy and sometimes having to carry him; it is the dozens of conversations we had with people affected by cancer when they asked “Why is he bald?” LIVESTRONG is Spencer cramming 80 wrist bands on his arms and legs to wear to school and celebrate the third anniversary of his diagnosis and coming home wearing only one.
Why are you a leader?
I was involved with the Lance Armstrong Foundation before Spencer’s cancer. I was at the 2004 Ride for the Roses dinner when Spencer first spiked the fever that led to his diagnosis. I am a Leader because of the obligation of the cured. As a parent of a childhood leukemia survivor, I am forever indebted to those who came before. Fifty years before Spencer’s diagnosis, essentially all kids with his disease died. Today 90% of kids with his diagnosis live at least five years with no recurrence. The only way for me to repay that debt is to make the world a better place for future survivors.
What are you doing in your community?
Spencer and I continue to raise money for LIVESTRONG through our participation in the LIVESTRONG Challenge and this year I am on the Austin Local Organizing Committee. I serve on several boards and advisory committees:
- The Central Texas Childhood and Adolescent Cancer Coalition (CTCACC) brings together a variety of regional resources for children/adolescents dealing with cancer and their families.
- The Care Communities provides support teams for people with Cancer or HIV/AIDS. http://thecarecommunities.org
- The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas ACCESS-AYA (After Cancer Care Ends-Survivorship Starts for Adolescents & Young Adults) is a program for provider and public education for adolescent and young adult survivors.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I tell my story and I listen to others tell theirs.