Photo caption: Lance Armstrong with pediatric cancer survivors, California Children’s Hospital
Note from Maria: I admire when people use their voice to be an Architect of Change. Stepping out and forward is scary no matter who you are. There are always those who disagree with you and your methods, but the great thing about America is that everyone can try. Last month, we featured a piece by my friend, Nathan Fletcher, who switched from Republican to Independent. He used his voice to tell his story of change. Today, Lance Armstrong tells why he’s using his voice to create change in a way he believes will help others.
Everyone has a cancer story. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched by this disease in some way. While, clinically, each case is different, each story also carries its personal mark, depth and emotional texture, registering an individual’s voice.
Fifteen years ago, I was like many 25 year olds — fearless, ready to conquer the world and without health insurance. For me, this was a disaster because on October 2, 1996, I was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer.
Thanks to the generosity of one of my sponsors, I was able to receive the treatment that saved my life. I was lucky. But luck shouldn’t have anything to do with whether the 1.5 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year receive treatment without breaking them financially.
And it’s an issue that the U.S. doesn’t face alone. Every country is confronting the growing burden of cancer and seeking answers with cancer now the world’s leading cause of death.
More than 28 million people, globally, are living with cancer today. Without greater progress in detection, prevention and treatment that number could triple by 2030.
As a cancer survivor, my motivation is to support those living with the disease and fight like hell to prevent others from getting it. I was taught at the end of my own treatment to fulfill what my oncologist and good friend, Dr. Craig Nichols, called “the obligation of the cured” — being active in fighting the disease on behalf of others.
As a citizen, that’s what prompted me to start my own foundation and be fully engaged in trying to create positive change.
That’s also why I’m using my voice to support Proposition 29 out here in California.
Prop 29, the California Cancer Research Act, will add $1 to the cost of every pack of cigarettes sold in California. In essence, it’s a “user’s fee”: only those who smoke will pay. This measure aims to protect kids from starting since tobacco use is a primary trigger to many cancers and other chronic diseases.
I also have five children. And as a father, I’m fully invested in their health and welfare. I don’t know any parent who would allow their kids to smart smoking…or who wouldn’t do everything in their power to actively prevent their children from the effects of a nicotine habit.
As a former member of the President’s Cancer Panel during my six years, I heard thousands of doctors, nurses, policy makers and survivors loud and clear: the single most effective thing we can do to prevent cancer is reduce tobacco use.
That’s precisely what Prop 29 will do.
Prop 29 is projected to channel close to $750 million annually — almost 1/6 of the entire National Cancer Institute Budget — to cancer research and prevention in California. It will inject new investments and high quality jobs into California’s struggling economy.
It could very possibly lead to new cures and treatments for people fighting cancer, the world’s leading cause of death. And it will protect our kids from the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing practices.
Transformational change is rare. And I believe Californians have an opportunity to create that kind of change, a change that could bring life-saving research and breakthroughs to people across the country and around the globe.
Prop 29 is a unique moment in which to advance better health and create a significant investment for cancer research and prevention. The U.S. cancer and health community, particularly our partners at the American Cancer Society, is united in its support for this landmark measure.
It’s my mission to see it passed on June 5th.
If you live in California, you can join me by voting YES on 29. If you don’t live in California, please share this with someone you know who does.