by Brian D. Meeks
Chapter 18 Day 17
The LiveStrong Foundation was founded by Lance Armstrong. He was born September 19, 1971 in Plano, Texas. His first sport was swimming and at age 12 he finished fourth in the 1,500-meters in the Texas state tournament. Swimming wasn’t enough for the young Armstrong and he entered a junior triathlon the next year and won.
Armstrong turned professional triathlete at age 16. He won the national sprint-course triathlon championship in both 1989 and 1990. Eventually, he decided to focus solely on biking and from 1992-1996 raced for team Motorola. His start was rising, but he had some troubles in 1996, when he was only able to compete in five days of the Tour De France.
October 2, 1996, he got the news. His diagnosis was that he had stage three testicular cancer. He was 25 years old. The cancer didn’t stop there and spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. While at the urologist, he began coughing up blood, and he was sent into immediate surgery. Next came the chemo therapy and his doctors gave him only a 40% chance of survival. Before he even knew if he would survive, Lance created the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
He fought with everything he had, because, that is how he lives his life. He won. In 1998, he began his cycling comeback, and not only returned to professional cycling, he excelled. He won seven consecutive Tour De France races and cemented his place in the history books of cycling.
Steve read the book, by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, because Lance Armstrong was one of his heroes. It was an inspiration. When the time came to decide what to do with the money he wanted to raise, Steve’s first stop was the LiveStrong foundation. He didn’t just assume they were the right choice, but did a fair amount of research. One wants to make sure that the charity is efficient and Steve was impressed with how they ran their operation.
Their operating costs are at 7%, which is very lean. Their site offers many resources, including the LIVESTRONG Guidebook which provides worksheets to help people get organized for their battle, from the point of diagnosis, through the treatment process and then afterwards. People don’t realize that the battle doesn’t end with beating the disease.
They also offer confidential cancer support through their 1-855-220-7777 line or online. It isn’t only those who are diagnosed with cancer who can benefit from the LIVESTRONG Foundations, professionals in the health care industry, educators and community leaders. They offer professional tools and training to help the people who help cancer patients.
The foundation is also involved in working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They have detailed PDFs of their action plans for all to see on the site. (National Action Plan for Cancer Survivorship)
The scope of the foundation’s work is massive and every dollar raised goes a long way to helping the battle on all fronts. Knowing this, is why Steve chose them.
Day 17 began with a check of the vital systems. “Three hard days in the heat and on the asphalt had put a bead down on me and I didn’t even know it. I woke up feeling okay…as okay as I ever do. I was optimistic about today’s running as I was to be on trail most of the day.”
It has been the same most mornings. Steve feels dreadful and his mind doesn’t want to do what they’ve been doing. His brain keeps hoping that they day before was the last, but that day is still a long ways off. It takes about five or six miles for him to convince his mind that it will be more of the same. Today, though, the body put up more of a revolt than usual. His left knee hurt each time he lifted it for the next step. There are a lot of steps in twenty six miles, and half of them involve his left knee. Shortly after this revelation, the right knee decided it wasn’t too happy with the state of things either and began sending painful messages to the control center. “I make myself ignore the voices that say I can’t take it for 26 miles and I tell myself I can take it for one mile and we’ll see about mile two after that.”
Nearly every part of his lower body has been in pain at one point or another during the run. It is the belief he has deep down inside that lets him make it from one mile to two miles and on down the road. “The dirt trails slowly massage the last three days of pounding out of my legs and by day’s end I am nearly graceful as I weave down the trail.”
Steve finds motivation in Caballo Blanco’s words, “run quiet, run fast,” and Steve says that today he was “nearly both”.
The run is 17 days done. The half-way point is just up ahead and he is excited to reach that milestone.
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