Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lance Through the Eyes of a 9-year Old

I suppose you heard a little story that involved Lance Armstrong this week.

Perhaps you listened to all the speculation about an interview he had with Oprah this week.

Perhaps you read a lot of articles and opinions about the interview - before and after it aired.

And perhaps you actually took the time to watch the interview.

And I, I know.....we all have differing opinions about Lance.  Just as we all have different opinions about gun control, abortion and how to fix our economy.  Heck, we all have different opinions on the Chicago Cubs.

And I love that.  

I love that we live in a world in which we can all have our own opinions...including my children.

Two of my children have accompanied me to LIVESTRONG events, and even helped with fundraising of their own.

My middle son asked me not to talk about the "Lance stuff" this week because in his mind, it was no different than so many other athletes out there.  He was upset that people were confusing Lance the cheater with LIVESTRONG.

This morning, I had the opportunity to chat with my 9 year-old.  She has big plans this year to create a Hula Hooping event as a fundraiser for LIVESTRONG.   I wanted to make sure she knew what was going on about Lance so she could ask questions.  I wanted her to be prepared for comments and questions from her friends in case anyone questions her LIVESTRONG band.

So I told her what was going on. 

Her response - "I like Lance because of LIVESTRONG and I couldn't go to Camp Kesem without Lance.  I have a lot of friends because of LIVESTRONG and Lance."

But, she did mention that she didn't like that he was a cheater.  That in her mind was wrong.  BUT, for her, the LIVESTRONG community, the ability to attend Camp Kesem (read more about Camp Kesem here) and make friends that are JUST LIKE HER - with a parent that has cancer, a parent that is a cancer survivor or having lost a parent with cancer - has been a game-changing experience for her.  

So if a 9 year-old and 14 year-old can differentiate between Lance the cyclist and LIVESTRONG, shouldn't we all be able to differentiate?

My opinions about Lance really don't matter - because what Lance did on the bike may have impacted a sport and a lot of people, but I wasn't one of those people.  I am not one of those people that he needs to apologize to.  He didn't bully me, didn't threaten me, didn't ask me to help cover anything up, didn't pay me off.

Don't get me wrong - this doesn't mean my opinions about Lance the cyclist haven't changed, just like my opinions about Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, Ben Johnson, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, Alex Rodriquez, Lenny Dykstra, Andy Pettite, and the countless other athletes that have used banned substances to improve their performance changed.

The difference for me is that I never called any of these individuals my hero - and none of them asked any of us to make them our hero.

I'll say this though.  Lance survived cancer.  This alone makes him a hero in my book.  Because no one close to me - my mother, my father, my aunt, my sister, my husband and his grandmother - have survived cancer.

Yes, Lance is a cheater.  But let's remember, he also cheated cancer and death.  

That Lance, the cancer cheater, is my hero.....because of his approach to a disease, because of his vision and understanding that there was a void to help others cheat death.  
I have seen first hand the devastation cancer causes not only the individual fighting the disease, but the aftermath the cancer leaves when it steals a parent from their children.  

My mother passed away 43 years ago - and I'm 46.  I have lived my entire life dealing with the devastation of cancer.  My mom wasn't there for advice, my mom wasn't there to guide me through the difficult teenage years, my mom wasn't there to meet my husband, help me pick out my wedding gown, see me get married, give me advice as I became a first-time parent of my own.  

My own children are now going through that.....and it is no fun.

How I wish their father had cheated cancer.  

I'll respect everyone's personal opinions, but ask that before you lump LIVESTRONG into the same category as Lance cheating, you take time to learn about what LIVESTRONG does.  Perhaps read some of my past posts about how LIVESTRONG has saved me from drowning, how LIVESTRONG has helped countless thousands in their battles with cancer.  Yes, they do not fund research....but only because plenty of other organizations do.  And they do not discriminate against any type of cancer, any age of cancer patient, whether you have cancer or are related to a cancer patient, any nationality.  

I will continue my fundraising efforts for LIVESTRONG because I have personally benefited from LIVESTRONG, as have many of my friends.  It is personal to me....the LIVESTRONG community is like family to me.

I hope you'll continue to support me as the year goes on however, I will completely understand if you do not.....but ask that you consider other organizations that support the cancer community - perhaps Camp Kesem, Imerman Angels, Movember....the list goes on.  

I hope for all of us, that a athlete cheating will not keep valuable services unavailable for all of us if and when we need them.