A LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin Story: Steven


Join Steven and Team LIVESTRONG at the LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin this October. Can’t make it to Austin? Run, ride or tri with us in 2012 or 2013. Visit www.teamlivestrong.org for more information.

My name is Steven Branfman. I live in Newton Massachusetts. I’m 59 years old and a cancer survivor. 2012 will be my fourth 100 mile LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin. This is why I ride in the LIVESTRONG Challenge:

There are no two brothers who were ever closer than Jared and Adam. There are no two brothers who were ever as proud of each others accomplishments than Jared and Adam and no two brothers who were as dedicated to each other always putting the other first. Jared being the older would learn how to do something, sports for example. Adam would watch, observe, and learn. Jared would teach him and then watch, as Adam would promptly surpass his brother’s ability. Jared was always the first at the finish line to congratulate him. This was the way of our household. This was the way of the brothers.

When Jared was first diagnosed with a spinal tumor in the spring of 2003, Adam sent a letter to Chris Carmichael (Lance Armstrong’s coach and trainer) introducing himself, telling him about our passion for cycling, that we were big fans of Lance, and of course, about his older brother and his illness. He told Chris about Jared and is personal passion for cycling. Jared had just begun to do competitive century rides in central New York State where the only flat roads are in parking lots. Jared was also the one who got us started watching the Tour de France. Adam didn’t know Chris, had had no previous contact with him, why he was writing exactly, or what he expected from the letter. Chris knew. Within days. Jared received a signed copy of Chris’s book, a signed copy of Lance’s book, and a signed poster of Lance…. all with personal words of encouragement. This began a friendship, first with Adam, and then between all of us and Chris. Over the next 2 1/2 years Chris maintained a close connection with us but especially with Jared. They spoke regularly.

When Jared came home from the hospital for the last time in September of 2005, Chris came to visit and stayed overnight with us. A few days later Lance called to talk to Jared. Jared couldn’t really talk but he could listen…. we think. Lance did all the talking. Jared passed away on September 27. He was 23 years old.

Chris Carmichael and Lance Armstrong reached out to a young man with cancer and his family that they did not know. The Manifesto of the Lance Armstrong Foundation has been hanging in our kitchen for 8 years. It hangs in our family room. It hangs in my studio directly above my potters wheel. It hangs in my studio at Thayer where I teach. It will always hang in the places that we work and live in and the words will always resonate in our hearts.

Many opinions fill the air about Lance Armstrong. People think that they know him, who he is and what he stands for. So do we. Are you or a loved one in the grips of cancer? Educate yourself and advocate. Be the leader in your battle against the disease but always remember that you can’t do it alone. Let your family and friends help you. Reach out to the resources that are near and reach out to the LAF. The LAF did more for us than I can express during Jared’s fight, after, and to this day. We couldn’t have done it without LIVESTRONG.

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