Cancer Diagnoses Survived

21 02 2009

So, if you’ve talked to me at any point for more than about 10 minutes you know I’m a rabid cycling fan. I also happen to be a Lance Armstrong fan, which is not much of a given as you may think. Many people around the world have never accepted his comeback from testicular cancer at face value and have come to think of Lance as a drug cheat who’s just never gotten caught. It’s a mantle he’s worn throughout his career. 

Without going into the merits of that point of view, which is decidedly NOT the purpose of this blog, I sincerely hope that no matter what people’s historical opinions of Lance are that they can rally around his comeback today. To support that hope, some background:

This past September Lance announced his comeback to pro cycling. He described his rationale for doing so in a recent interview in Outside. In summary, he figured that by his coming back and racing on each continent he could focus dramatically more attention on raising funding for cancer research and prevention.  Further, he’s not taking any salary. His earnings go into the foundation. He’s got the money he needs to live on.

The metrics he’s looking to manage (from the Lance Armstrong Foundation) are pretty staggering:

CANCER STATISTICS

  • There are more than 10.5 million cancer survivors living in the United States today
  • This number has more than tripled in the past 30 years
  • The number of survivors will grow as the population ages and progress against cancer continues

INCIDENCE AND MORTALITY

  • 1.4 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year
  • 560,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer this year, or more than 1,500 per day
  • Nearly 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer during their lifetime
  • Within the next decade, cancer is likely to replace heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S. It is already the biggest killer of those under the age of 85.
  • Today 65% of adults diagnosed with cancer will be alive five years after diagnosis, up from 50% in the 1970s
  • African-American men and women have the highest mortality rates for all cancer sites combined
  • While dramatic survival improvements have been achieved in patients diagnosed with cancer at age 15 or younger and steady improvement has been made against a number of cancers common among those over age 40, little or no progress has been seen in the adolescent and young adult population. In fact, among those aged 25 to 35 years, survival has not improved in more than two decades.

CANCER COSTS AND INSURANCE COVERAGE

  • The overall cost for cancer last year was $206 billion, which includes $78 billion for medical bills, $18 billion for lost productivity from the illness, and $110 billion due to lost productivity from premature death.
  • 17% of Americans younger than age 65 have no health insurance coverage and 24% of Americans age 65 or older only have Medicare.

Why is Lance coming back? Because whenever he gets on a bike in a race, he’s making headlines. And when he’s making headlines, he can talk about cancer. And when he can talk about cancer in such a public way, he can dramatically affect the level of awareness of the statistics above. As an example, his first professional race of his comeback was the Tour Down Under in Australia in January. While he was there, he was able to gain a commitment from Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for $3.8M in new cancer initiatives. Could he have gotten that commitment in more conventional ways? Maybe. But Lance could do it more effectively in the context of a media frenzy with lots of pictures of him on his bike.

Which, of course, is exactly the point. 

He’s even worked with Trek to create custom-painted bikes for his races, painted in the colors of his LIVESTRONG foundation and with icons related to his cause. Here’s his custom time trial bike, taken at this past weekend’s Amgen Tour of California prologue in Sacramento:

LiveStrong time trial bike

LIVESTRONG time trial bike

Ironically, this bike was stolen from the team’s truck later that night. Fortunately, it’s so utterly distinctive that it was recovered later in the week. The numbers painted on the frame represent the following:

  • 1274 represents the number of days between his retirement and his comeback
  • 27.5 represents the millions of people who have died of cancer in that time

It’s a wonderful example of a personal unit of measure and a person taking on a cause to manage that metric. No matter what you thought of him before, hopefully you can be a fan in the future.

 

To get involved…

Lance Armstrong Foundation

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2 responses

22 02 2009
againseminoma

Great post.

10 03 2009
Dawn Graham

Scotty, It has been a long time, and when I saw this blog post I wanted to share my nephew’s story. This kid is amazing and he has benn INSPIRED by LANCE ARMSTRONG. In fact, he just got notified that his wish will be granted by “Make a Wish” Foundation. My nephew has an amazing story and is receaching out to other boys his age. READ HIS STORY BELOW:

In October 2007, I was 14 years old and attended Roseville High School as a Freshman. This was also my first year in football. My football season with the Tigers was cut short because of
TESTICULAR CANCER.

My neighbor, Andrea told my mother about her brother who passed away from Testicular Cancer. My father picked me up from football practice, and asked me if I knew what Testicular Cancer was. I told my father that I knew what Testicular Cancer was and that I found a lump about a week before. My father was shocked and told my mother to call the doctor’s office and set an appointment for me.

My mother and I went to see Nair. She examined me and at this point, I felt embarrassed. She confirmed that there was a lump. Only now, it went from a size of a pea, to a size of dime in a week. Nair immediately ordered an ultrasound. My mother drove me to the imaging center and the female ultrasound technician greets me and takes me back into a room. She told me what she was going to do and that I needed to lie still. I was totally embarrassed again but I knew it was for my own good. The images on the screen confirmed there was tumor. At that moment, I felt anxious and I felt like time stopped.

My parents and I saw my Urologist, Shapiro and he confirmed the tumor is 99.99% Testicular Cancer and it needed to be removed as soon as possible. He told me how proud he was that I told my parents about the lump and that I caught it possibly in the early stages. I asked Shapiro, “Aren’t I too young to have Testicular Cancer?” He answered, “No, I’ve seen boys as young as three years old and even birth have Testicular Cancer.” Shapiro wanted to operate that day. I was thinking why today? The day Roseville Tigers play our arch rival Woodcreek Timberwolves. Why couldn’t it be any other day or any other week? I said to my parents and Shapiro, “Now, honestly, guys can’t this wait till Monday. I’m playing the school I’ve been waiting for all year long to play, my best friends go there and kids at Cooley go there. Also, tomorrow I’m going to an all night boys retreat, can’t this wait until Monday? It’s not like it’s going to grow overnight.” Shapiro told me, he would contact us and let us know in a few hours. We went to the parking lot and it finally hits me how serious my condition is. I cried a little, along with my Dad. A few minutes later I said, “Mom and Dad I’ve been thinking about this all week long and I just want to get this thing out of me. I have two nuts and I can give up one.” I had my parents laughing at this point and needless to say, I told a few more nut jokes.

I got to play Woodcreek High School, we lost but it was an amazing game. When we pulled up to the house, I told my parents, “Dad and Mom I know what it is now. I know why God allowed this to happen to me. It’s so I can save someone’s life. I’m going to turn in my football gear and tell the entire football team what I’m going through so they are informed and someone else’s life is saved.” They were so proud to hear this.

I turned in my football gear and told the entire football team that I would be unable to play the next three games because I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. I told the guys about Testicular Cancer. I discussed with them about early detection, how to perform self exams on a regular basis. I told them this cancer is prevalent in teenage boys beginning at age of 15 and to tell their parents as soon as possible if they discover a lump. I told them because I caught this early I’m going to be ok. However, I didn’t tell my parents right away because I didn’t think it was a big deal or anything to worry about, but it was! After I spoke, the team prayed and chanted Tigers for me. Shortly afterwards three guys came forward and told me they had found lumps but didn’t think anything about it. I told them to tell their father, mother, counselor or any adult they trusted and to get it checked out.

On the day of surgery, I’m in good spirits but nervous. Surgery goes well. I had Stage 1 Testicular Cancer and I caught it at a very early stage; however, the germ cell cancer came back November 3, 2008 in two areas. One tumor is located near my liver and one tumor is located near my pancreas. Their almost like twins, side by side. The doctor told us it’s 100 percent survival rate and I caught this in time. He said the cell probably traveled up from the previous tumor in my testicle and stayed dormant this past year and decided to come out this week. I know everything is going to be fine. I believe God will see me through this again and especially with all the support and love from my family, my Tiger family and friends.

Just remember positive thoughts plus faith equals positive impacts.

Jeffrey Minasian, The M.A.N.
Modeled After None

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