It was a Saturday and I remember everything about that day, right down to the clothes I was wearing. It is a day that every cancer survivor knows. It was one of the most pivotal moments of my life. B.C. (Before Cancer) my health was my last concern. I was an athlete, a long distance runner. I had run nine marathons, including Boston and New York only months before. I won a five mile race the previous weekend. Everything was about to change. My life was about to change. I was about to change.
A.D. (After Diagnosis) I became a different person. No one wants to be part of the Cancer Club. I was as reluctant as anybody. I was angry. Anger may have helped me at first, to get through the surgeries, to convince myself that I would survive because I was mad. Then something happened that was even more powerful, I stopped being the angry victim and I took charge. As every cancer survivor knows, family, friends and a great medical team are indispensable. Yet, there were three other things that really helped me: attitude, Lance Armstrong and the internet.
I made the decision to stop thinking about how unfair it was that I had cancer. Instead, I thought about how lucky I was that it had been found. I had been given a gift. I now have more time to enjoy this life, not less.
Lance Armstrong helped me to become a “warrior survivor.” While I will never win the Tour de France, I refuse to sit back and give in to cancer. I know that Lance does not like to be called a hero. I consider him to be an inspiration. I plan to run in the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank Marathon this October, my first A.D. Marathon.
The internet is my other weapon. Because of the internet, I became my own best informed advocate, of my treatment plan. I had a million questions and the internet had a million answers. I connected with other cancer survivors. I also found alternatives to traditional medicine. Knowledge is power and if there was ever a time that I needed to feel empowered, it was being diagnosed with cancer.
The internet has also provided a venue for mobilization of people and resources and for promotion of events like LIVESTRONG Day. The internet is a strong motivating factor and makes a huge difference in the number of people that can be reached and encouraged to participate in the race to find a cure.
It is a Wednesday, and I’m wearing my yellow band and LIVESTRONG T-shirt. Today is LIVESTRONG Day. According to the Lance Armstrong Foundation website, “On Wednesday, May 17, you can help Lance and the LAF be a voice for change. Thousands of people will take part in LIVESTRONG Day events across the country to raise awareness of and bring attention to an issue that impacts all Americans – cancer.”