I honestly do not remember when I first slipped the yellow bracelet on my wrist. It was probably sometime in 2005. I must have made a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) and it showed up in the mail. It sat for a while. I kept it on my dresser. Then one day, I decided to put it on before I went for a run. I was acutely aware that it was on my wrist. How could you miss something so bright and yellow. I certainly did not understand the mission then, but I still wore the bracelet. I was a cycling fan. As an American, I was a fan of Lance Armstrong. I began watching cycling races back in 1988 and rejoiced when Greg Lemond won three Tours de France, and was proud each time Lance took the podium in July. The bracelet began to adorn my wrist each and every day.
Fast forward to April 2008. In a matter of seconds, during the course of one frantic telephone call from my wife, cancer entered our lives and decided to take residence in our two year old daughter. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, she was given six to nine months to live, maybe a year at the outside with conventional treatment that had not changed in thirty years. In the days that followed her diagnosis, I remember looking down at my wrist and seeing that yellow band. I picked up the phone and called the LAF to obtain information and support. And it was available. In those early days, we were confused, scared and left wanting for as much information as possible. Information is at a premium during the early days of a cancer diagnosis. And so, I was thankful that I was able to obtain support from any and all sources, including the LAF.
As my daughter's journey with cancer progressed, and ultimately she lost her battle, I continued to wear the bracelet. The motto of "Livestrong" came to mean something to me. It was a tangible concept that I tried to live by, it was a palpable feeling I gained through the amazing strength of my daughter. Yes, it is the motto of a foundation, but for many, it came to be a meaning for the manner in which we learned to face adversity. I lost my daughter in January 2011. She was two weeks shy of her fifth birthday. My daughter taught me so many life lessons and created the person I am today. She instilled the burning desire within me that drives my passion to help find treatments for childhood cancer that actually work and do not cause more damage in the process.
Since that time, I have continued to wear the bracelet. Many people have now turned their backs upon the LAF and the yellow bracelet. I understand. I understand the intense sense of disappointment that many feel over what has transpired through the course of the investigation into Lance Armstrong and the USADA's report. I am not here to defend or comment upon that. I am simply here pledging my allegiance to a cause. The cause of fighting cancer. The yellow bracelet to me transcends the original concept of support for the LAF and is a show of strength and solidarity to all those who are battling cancer or any adversity for that matter. It is a statement that we all want the same goal, a cure for cancer. I wear it because I have been inspired through a journey by a little girl who became more than my daughter, she became my hero.
There are those out there I suppose who will think I am simply mindless for continuing to wear the yellow bracelet. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. This is not about cycling at this point despite the origins of the bracelet. My continued donning of the silicone band is an outward statement to myself and the mission of the cancer community. It sits right next to a bracelet my wife and I created to honor our daughter and the 5k race series we started in her memory to raise research funds. There are many amazing organizations that spend every minute of every day with the singular goal of curing cancer. The LAF is simply one member of this community of dreamers that must continue to do the amazing work that it has done for the past fifteen years. I wear the bracelet for myself, and I wear the bracelet for my daughter. Alexis taught me what it means to live, and she taught me what it means to "Livestrong." And thus, that is what I intend to do.
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