Today is a day about truth. Today is also a day about taking action. Today is the day that, once again… the pain, hurt, fury and frustration has boiled to the surface… and I am fired up enough to write another passage about what it’s like to be a survivor of cancer.
These messages were painted on the roads of the Tour de France before the peleton pedaled through.
Just as Lance Armstrong was pedaling through France this past summer, I was spending two wonderful weeks with my big sister Lea. Diagnosed with leukemia on January 10, 2005, Lea has survived a barrage of assaults on her body, mind and spirit. Not surprisingly, for those that know and love her… she is a unyielding fighter… who can reach deep into her soul and produce courage and focus that is truly incredible. Many would say that Lea has beaten cancer, and by all medically relevant standards she has… but there’s so much more to her story, more that is easily ignored, forgotten or avoided: It’s the aftermath.
There’s a lot of hardship in this world… and my guess is that folks who have endured severe tests of the spirit, know a thing or two about surviving. But like the person who climbs out the wreckage after a tornado destroys their home, or the soldier who spends months in physical therapy learning to walk again… there are certain challenges that take years and even decades to rebuild from. Leukemia has been that for our family. Lea beat hell out of her cancer, but it’s impacts are still felt everyday.
You did it Lea… you really did!!
We first became involved with Doug Ulman and the LIVESTRONG movement in the moments after Lea’s diagnosis. Through the tears and the nausea of the news, LIVESTRONG was the first organization that really tapped into our fighting spirit. There was an unapologetic belief that there was strength in unity, and that hope was as powerful as any cancer drug would ever be. We’re forever grateful and as a result we want to make sure that everyone out there understands how important it is that we unite together against the epidemic of cancer.
So today happens to be LIVESTRONG Day and there are ways YOU can help. We are donating 10% of our annual profits to Livestrong and like minded charities… so our request isn’t for moola… it’s for involvement.
1.) Register your bone marrow: Swab your cheek with a Q-tip at home for FREE as part of becoming a bone marrow donor. If you’ve been meaning to do this, do it today. It’s easy and you’re saving someone’s life!!! PLEASE do this. If you already have done it… THANK YOU! Please write in and tell us what made you do it!
VIDEO: How to register / get tested
Here’s how to sign up for a free test kit (donations accepted but not required):
You might never be a match, but if you are… wow, you’re in the position to save someone’s life!! You’re not donating a kidney or a lung now… so get that whole gory, life altering surgery concept out of your head right off the bat. The act of bone marrow donation can take on one of two different forms, but 70% of all donations are taken in a procedure very similar to the simple act of donating blood. The cold hard truth though is that every year 35,000 people need a donor and only 3800 will find one. Bottom line: we need more people involved and you could be that one!
A great video that explains what the actual donation process is here:
2.) Get healthy and get involved. Go for a walk today, ride your bike, play with your kids, smoke one less cigarette, eat a salad… whatever. Do something healthy for you and your family.
3.) Livestrong: it’s not all about Lance… it’s about uniting against cancer. Get involved through this link here. While you’re at LIVESTRONG, go buy some of their sweet gear, and wear it with pride knowing that you’re helping a great organization with your cash while raising awareness about cancer. If you want to understand what LIVESTRONG is to survivors like us, here’s their manifesto:
THE MANIFESTO OF THE LANCE ARMSTRONG FOUNDATION
We believe in life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
We kick in the moment you’re diagnosed.
We help you accept the tears. Acknowledge the rage.
We believe in your right to live without pain.
We believe in information. Not pity.
And in straight, open talk about cancer.
With husbands, wives and partners. With kids, friends and neighbors. And the people you live with, work with, cry and laugh with.
This is no time to pull punches.
You’re in the fight of your life.
We’re about the hard stuff.
Like finding the nerve to ask for a second opinion.
And a third, or a fourth, if that’s what it takes.
We’re about getting smart about clinical trials.
And if it comes to it, being in control of how your life ends.
It’s your life. You will have it your way.
We’re about the practical stuff.
Planning for surviving. Banking your sperm. Preserving your fertility. Organizing your finances. Dealing with hospitals, specialists, insurance companies and employers.
It’s knowing your rights.
It’s your life.
Take no prisoners.
We’re about the fight.
We’re your champion on Capitol Hill. Your advocate with the healthcare system. Your sponsor in the research labs.
And we know the fight never ends.
Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.
This is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Founded and inspired by one of the toughest cancer survivors on the planet.
Ok… that’s it! Thanks for hearing us, thanks for being involved, thanks to Tammy for donating her bone marrow to my sister… and most of all, thanks to Lea Morrison who inspires me everyday with her attitude, action and love.
To Lea: I couldn’t be more proud to be your little brother, and I want you to know that I understand how hard you work EVERY day to stay healthy and positive. You have earned your title of Survivor the hard way. I hope you will take a moment today, on LIVESTRONG Day to celebrate how far you have come!!