The world has suddenly gone bonkers for yellow…..yellow wristbands that is. The bands are inscribed with the inspirational tag phrase LiveSTRONG, made famous by world renowned cyclist Lance Armstrong. People started wearing them because they spotted the athletes, Olympians, musicians, actors and even during the presidential election, John Kerry and George Bush, sporting the yellow bands. It became a fashion craze. Everyone wanted to wear yellow. It was a must have item like a hot pair of shoes or a new shirt. But I believe it’s becoming a craze for the wrong reason. Its wonderful to see the bracelets on everyone’s wrist and to hear that they have sold more than 30 million, but probably more than half of the people wearing them are doing so for the wrong purpose and reason.
Its not about style, its the message behind the bracelets that is so moving. Lance Armstrong is not only an incredible athlete, father, friend and son, he is a cancer survivor. At the age of 25, at the peak of his career, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer. In the beginning of 1996, he was starting to feel weak, and not himself. But being the stubborn Texan that he was, he kept trucking on. He was upset with his performance in the 1996 Olympics in Georgia when he didn’t even make it into the top ten. He was expected to take home gold, but little did he know he was riding with 14 tumors encased on his lungs. He thought he was being a sissy.
He was feeling incredibly tired and was having trouble breathing and he knew something was terribly wrong when he woke up one morning and was coughing up blood. He wouldn’t have thought anything of it, except that he was coughing up massive amounts of blood. He called up his friend and they made their way to the hospital in Austin. When the tests results were taking too long Lance got antsy in the waiting room. He knew something was up. It couldn’t take hours for the doctors to tell him he had broken a blood vessel or had pneumonia. He got up and went to search for an answer.
You better wait for the doctor to tell you, the nurse said in a somber tone. Oh s**t. Lance said, a little nervous, realizing there was something really wrong. The diagnosis he heard was something an athlete in their prime – anyone for that matter doesn’t want to hear, you have cancer.
The doctor announced that he was sending Lance into surgery the next morning to remove his left testicle. Lance was in shock. Like most young men, he had ignored the warning signs early on and he was in grave danger. He was not only in danger of not being able to produce children or cycle; he was in danger of losing his life. They hadn’t caught the cancer in the early stages and it had already spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain. This was a lot of information for a 25-year-old man to take in. He was scared for the first time in his life. He was really scared. But instead of letting the cancer take him over, he fought it. As he went through treatment and suffered excruciating pain and nausea he fought.
With a combination of his physical strength and will power, his competitive drive came out. He was ready to beat this disease. Lance started to treat the disease like it was an opponent and would talk to it. Every time he threw up from the treatment he would act as if he were throwing up the cancer. From the start he didn’t consider himself a victim, but a survivor, and no matter what, he would persevere. He educated himself and got the best treatment and went through an aggressive grueling two months of chemotherapy. With his strength, support and will power, he beat the cancer.
Lance found out years later from his doctor that he had less than 5% chance of living, and he beat it. Now that right there is an amazing story, but Armstrong took it to another level. He began to train his body to race his bike again. Two years after defeating cancer, he won the most intense event in sports, the Tour de France. He not only won it once, he’s won the race six times in a row. He credits his battle with cancer as the reason he can win a bike race now. He is stronger and tougher and has a different outlook on life. He knows he’s been to the end of the world and back, nothing can be worse.
After his heroic and amazing comeback into life, Lance Armstrong started the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer survivors and patients. He became a leader for cancer survivors and his foundation would provide information and an outreach program for those going through the day-to-day battle against cancer. As a tribute to his fight against cancer, as well as his attempt to break the Tour de France record last May, Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation created LiveSTRONG bracelets.
The Wear Yellow Live Strong campaign donates all proceeds from the wristbands to cancer research and the LAF organization. This amazing symbol of hope only costs $1. I’ve worn one since September and my band means more to me than any other piece of clothing I own, and it’s by far the least expensive. Its not the cost or the fact that its cool that counts, its the meaning behind it.
I’m proud to wear my yellow LiveSTRONG band and show my support for cancer survivors and patients. No cancer patient should feel like a victim. All 10 Million people who are diagnosed with any type of cancer should wear one of these bands. Even though they are a flimsy piece of rubber, it means so much more than that. It’s a symbol of hope and strength. Every time I look at mine, I just think of the amazing story of Lance Armstrong. It makes me stop complaining about little aches and pains.
I am only one of more than 10 million Americans living with and beyond cancer, so there are at least 10 million reasons why I wear my Live Strong wristband everyday, said Lance Armstrong. I think the color yellow stands for hope and courage and inspiration and that’s why I’m never taking my wristband off. Neither am I. This wristband is more than a wristband. Its founded and inspired by one of the toughest survivors on the planet. I hope it’s not just a fashion craze. I hope people keep reaching out and wearing these bands forever. It’s a great message.