‘Livestrong’ for cancer victims

By Kelly McKee
November 19, 2004

Scott Fobes

A yellow rubber band; a yellow band worn around the wrist. How has this item become so popular that people will pay up to 20 percent of their original cost value just to have one? They are on back order for up to six weeks and are appearing throughout the nation in high schools, on college campuses, in the workplace; well everywhere. They are fast becoming this years must have fashion accessory. Oh, and by the way, they are created by Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor.

Armstrong at the age of 25 was one of the world’s best cyclists, having won the World Championship’s, the Tour Du Pont and multiple Tour de France stages. It seemed nothing would stop this young man.

Unfortunately Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. This form of cancer is the most common cancer occurring in men ages 15-35. If detected early in its stages, the treatment rate is an encouraging 90 percent.

However, Armstrong, like many young men, failed to carryout the necessary checks for the cancer and ignored warning signs. This delay in treatment resulted in the cancer spreading to Armstrong’s lungs, abdomen and brain. The news devastated the young athlete and his opportunities in the racing world dimmed.

Extraordinarily, Armstrong did not let this faze him for long and made a conscious decision to fight the cancer head on through determination, strength, knowledge and confidence in his treatment. He underwent extensive therapy and surgery in his battle against the disease whilst educating himself on the multiple aspects that come with a diagnosis of cancer.

During his treatment Armstrong was moved to find a way to educate others on what he had to learn the hard way. He created the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997.

“Livestrong” bands were created to fundraise for the foundation and spread awareness. The bands are purchased in packets of 10, 100 or 1200 at the cost of $1 a piece. The money made from orders go to the charity for assistance in providing new technology and providing aid to those families hit by the disease. Almost 13 million of these bands have been purchased since their exposure in 2003.

This all sounds wonderful and indeed it is, but there is a flip side to this craze; the “livestrong” bands seem to be losing their significance and becoming merely a fashion statement. Many people are finding the product increasingly difficult to come across without a long waiting period, something not appreciated by today’s impatient society.

The bands are being coveted by those lacking and are even being sold on auction websites such as www.ebay.com for amounts up to $20. This enrages me as the profit making nature of society has even now extended its sticky fingers into charity.

The true meaning of the band is hope, courage and strength in battling a disease which affects over 10 million people today. It is wonderful that so many people have made donations towards this charity and charities as such but for those people who only care about the fashion; it is a sorry state of affairs.

To me it is unfathomable that these people who cannot get their hands on a “livestrong” band just shrug their shoulders and move on to seeking the next fashion accessory. The whole concept of the product is the donation, so why not donate anyway? And it doesn’t just have to be this particular cancer charity; there are hundreds similar out there all doing the same amazing work.

I have lost both my father and two grand-parents to various cancers and I am sure that many of you have also suffered losses of this sort. This is a disease that will affect one in three people. Look around you. It is a good chance that someone in your viewpoint will contract a form of the disease in their lifetime; if not you.

As a society, we can help battle this disease through research and developing technology. One day we may be able to succeed against its fatal results. So do not be jealous if you cannot sport the same bracelet or pin as your friend does. Remember the cause and donate anyway; wear the benefits in your heart knowing that through your donation you have helped against the number one killer in the nation.

For more information on how to help fight cancer or to make donations to a foundation visit www.cancer.org

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Kelly McKee

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