Living in Austin, Texas, global headquarters for LIVESTRONG, and working in the oncology care community, the recent events surrounding Lance Armstrong is big news. I honestly have not thought a lot about the controversy since news broke, but a 12-mile run at a local YMCA gave me plenty of time and visual fodder to think through the noise.
Headphones in, sweating away, and I see a dear and familiar face on the television screen in front of me. Jonny Imerman, a cancer survivor and founder of the amazing Imerman Angels, a nonprofit providing free, one-on-one cancer support to people all across the globe, was selected as a CNN Hero. There’s no one else more perfect for that title than Jonny, who has connected cancer survivors and patients in more than 65 countries. The television feature showed a few familiar photos of Jonny like the one where he attended the LIVESTRONG Global Summit three years ago, further spreading the vision of Imerman Angels. Not too long ago Imerman Angels became a formal partner with LIVESTRONG to connect patients with support services as they call the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center.
Oddly enough, the very next seconds on CNN were occupied with a discussion about Lance Armstrong banned from cycling with LIVESTRONG images catapulting from the screen. The spot didn’t last long, and I caught myself laughing at the juxtaposition of the back-to-back features. I looked around. Yellow LIVESTRONG bands were everywhere. LIVESTRONG Austin Half-Marathon and Marathon runner and medical staff shirts bounced on the treadmills in front of me, and the LIVESTRONG at the Y program flyers encouraged participation on the wall behind me.
LIVESTRONG means many things to me as an oncology nurse. I have personally referred patients, friends, and family members to the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center, Imerman Angels, LIVESTRONG at the Y, and many other LIVESTRONG services and partners like Planet Cancer, Sharing Hope, and the Patient Advocate Foundation. I have witnessed the life-changing and life-saving impacts of each of these programs and services.
Am I biased? Absolutely. LIVESTRONG has poured time, effort, and money into me professionally as a nurse. They’ve done the same for you. I am not an employee of LIVESTRONG, but I am extremely proud of the work I’ve done with them and the Nurse Oncology Education Program to reach literally thousands of nurses and other healthcare professionals about adolescent and young adult cancer and now cancer in the Hispanic/Latino population, a new continuing nursing education video which will release soon. LIVESTRONG has done the same kind of education and resource-creation for physicians, educators, community leaders, and community health workers, as well.
LIVESTRONG cares about people impacted by cancer. That means they care about nurses and the millions of providers worldwide who care for the 28 million people globally living with cancer.
I have never personally met Lance even though I’ve seen him many times at events and in and around Austin, where he’s done incredible work for the city, local healthcare organizations, and cyclists as well as other health-conscious folks. As much as Lance Armstrong has done, LIVESTRONG is more than Lance Armstrong. It’s about life – your life, my life. With 1 in 3 Americans developing cancer in their lifetime and cancer as the leading cause of mortality with 7.6 million deaths worldwide, we all need an organization like LIVESTRONG, one that works alongside grassroots to global organizations to impact health in our communities and around the world. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for people impacted by cancer. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for healthcare professionals. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for our patients. LIVESTRONG makes a difference for you.
That won’t ever change. LIVESTRONG.
Full disclosure: I worked as the program director for the Nurse Oncology Education Program (NOEP) for almost five years in which I worked closely with LIVESTRONG to educate nurses in all fields of practice about their role in cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship care. I continue to work with NOEP and LIVESTRONG on continuing nursing education activities, the most recent one scheduled to release on August 29, 2012. I did not receive remuneration to write this post. These are the opinions and thoughts of a masters-prepared oncology certified nurse in clinical practice and a person whose family is impacted by cancer.