My connection to cancer started with a middle of the night phone call from my little brother, letting me know that his best friend, Travis, lost his fight at just 25 years old. Travis was like my own little brother. Four years later, I received my own cancer diagnosis: no family cancer history, in perfect health, a former college athlete, and a dude, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. It taught me a valuable lesson, that no one is bulletproof or beyond the reaches of this disease.
Why are you a LIVESTRONG Leader?
I was that patient that wanted to know everything, and I turned to LIVESTRONG as a resource guide during treatment; knowledge is power. I became a Leader when the program first began because I wanted others to know what I knew. The foundation is truly making an impact within the cancer community. It helps survivors and their loved one’s prepare for treatment, navigate the health care system, learn about clinical trials, and live well after treatment. Maybe, most importantly, it offers hope and inspiration. I remember hearing from a friend that his uncle was diagnosed and about to begin his treatments. I sent his uncle a LIVESTRONG guide book, a wristband, and a note of encouragement. I later learned he wore his wristband and carried his note to each treatment. Uncle Mike remains cancer free today. That’s the impact of this foundation and that’s why I am honored to be a Leader.
What does LIVESTRONG mean to you?
Simple – it means knowledge is power, unity is strength, and attitude is everything.
What are you doing in your community?
Lately, my focus has been in shaping public health policy and expanding access to care. Whether it’s been meeting with members of Congress on Capitol Hill, or sharing a cup of coffee with my local state representative here in Portland, Maine; we need to begin applying what we know about cancer to what we do about cancer. The LIVESTRONG Foundation has joined leading national and state healthcare and cancer organizations through the Cover Maine Now coalition to advocate for expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Without this, nearly 70,000 Mainers, who would be otherwise covered, will be without health insurance.
My diagnosis of breast cancer was as unlikely as it gets. The simple fact that I had health insurance lead me to visit my doctor’s office. Without health insurance, I would not have gone when I did, and I would not be here today. Everyone deserves the same.