Saturday, January 13, 2007
Livestrong: A life changing moment
On November 21, 1996, I became a warrior in the fight against cancer. I was 14, and my grandfather had just died of liver and stomach cancer. A decade later, I've found myself in a similar place, not because of a personal loss, but rather a personal gain.

After we taped the "Saving Your Life" cancer special, a colleague and I attended the first Livestrong Summit in Austin, Texas. We spent two days among the most amazing and inspiring people I've ever encountered, those who had survived the fight of their lives, those who had taken care of loved ones ultimately lost to the disease, and those who simply wanted to make a difference.

Among those who truly touched me was Julia. She's an 81-year-old breast cancer survivor with the energy of a 30-year-old athlete, and when she speaks about her experience, it's as if you're hearing Maya Angelou read a poem. "You have to believe that there is a future, and you can be a part of it, but you must believe that you can make it through the night, for the joy comes in the morning...and the joy...is being alive."

And Rob Sartin, whose 6-year-old son, Spencer, continues to battle cancer. Rob told us how Spencer loads his arms up with yellow Livestrong bracelets and makes his way around social gatherings selling them, and donating the profit to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. So far, he's donated more than $30,000.

Then, Rob proudly pulled out a copy of Sports Illustrated which had a picture of Spencer sitting on Lance Armstrong's lap.

Speaking of Lance, we had an opportunity to interview him as well. I had seen him in action the night before at the "Saving Your Life" taping, but it wasn't until I sat next to him that I truly understood how deep this man's passion for beating cancer goes.

The ceremony closed shortly after our interview. WideAwake, an Austin band, took the stage and performed their song "Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow." The song was written as a tribute to a friend with cancer, and all proceeds from the sale of the song on iTunes go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Every so often in this business, an event happens that really changes your life. For me, Hurricane Katrina was the first one. Watching WideAwake playing their song about triumph over cancer in a room filled with 900 cancer survivors is the latest.

To hear more inspiring stories from cancer survivors, go to cnn.com/savingyourlife and make sure to tune into CNN tonight and tomorrow at 8pm and 11pm ET to see our in-depth report on the war on cancer.
Unfortunately I don't think the emphasis should be on "beating" cancer, rather on "prevention".

My husband's entire family is gone from cancer (one from heart disease). Several in my family. We strongly feel focus needs to be more on preventation. Cancer should be a rare occurrence & we should all look forward to dying in our sleep from old age. This cancer thing is deeply wrong in our society. Face facts - it has become Big Business. We need to put a stop to it. What really causes cancer? We can look directly at the food we eat, the water we drink & the chemicals we are exposed to. Prevention is where the focus needs to be.

I just had a email conversation with an emergency room doc whose wife is dying from breast cancer. He's so angry & I don't blame him. He also believes his wife's cancer was caused - not something that just happened. I visit the blog of a man whose son has autism. He is very angry & I don't blame him. He believes his son's illness was caused & I agree with him.

As a society we need to wake up. Prevention is within our reach. We've got to stop accepting what has been handed to us by Big Business. Prevention - more emphasis has got to go into prevention.

Look - my Vet told me in Vet school they were taught if a bird is in the room when you run your self-cleaning oven the bird will drop dead. Now what does that tell you?? What effect does that oven cleaning have on a baby, or a Beagle or a grown man standing in the room??? It is time to wake up & take action. The answers are not in the "cure" rather in "prevention".
Hello it is really great to hear your stories on cancer. My father has been diagnosed with cancer in the lung and the brain, he has went through radiation on the brain and the lung and a double dose of chemotherapy on the lungs, which seemed to help for a short period of time. We went to the doctor last week and they informed us that there was nothing else they could do for him, and are only giving him 2 months to live. We are willing to try alternative meds.,do you have any advise to share?? Please help!!! if possible. donj53@peoplepc.com
Dear Dr. Gupta,
Thanks for your great work and great attitude - you use the power of your podium to help people make positive changes with information. It's grand.

My question relates to vitamin supplements. I recently found out that the multi-vitamins I've been taking have been discontinued. It took me a long time to find multis that worked for my system - didn't upset my stomach, for example - so I'm rather frustrated.

There is a plethora of multi-vitamins out there, as you know, so is there a checklist for a woman who just turned 50 and is very healthy (and always has been)- and wants to stay that way?

Are there certain elements that might upset my stomach more than others, or in quantities over a certain amount?

Do I still need to take iron even though I do not menstruate anymore?

Thanks for all your great contributions.

With great respect and best wishes for 2007,

Joan Michelson
702.806.3690
jonamichelson@hotmail.com
I am a 2 year breast cancer survivor. My cancer spread to my lymph nodes. I have gone through several surgeries,8 rounds of dose dense chemo, 66 rounds of radiation. I was channel surfing when I came across this segment and I want to say thank u for making cancer awareness part of your show. It is a wonderful resource.
Dr. Gupta, My wife and I were also very proud to participate in the LiveStrong Summit last year. Since many comments these days about budget and spendign reflect the costs of the war, I wanted to share one of the most interesting comments that we heard at the Summit from a Breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed while her husband was deployed in Irag and she said she had a much greater fear of dying of cancer than of her husband being killed in the war.
Dr. Gupta: I know that Cancer is bad but esp. Colon Cancer. I would like to know how I can get one around here that can do one for low cost. I have no insurance and need one, never had one. I need several tests but cannot afford them. Tell me what I can do. I live near the Houston, Tx. area. Please advise.

Thanks, Ann McDaniel, Grannymcd@aol.com, Ph. 903-694-9288
Thank you for that report Matt Sloane. I highly enjoyed reading it. Rob Sartin and his son Spencer will be in my prayer.
This April 24th, 2007 will be 6 years that I was hit by a van that was hit by a hit & run. Head through the windshield, left leg pulverized, lung punctured, broken ribbs, etc. and they said I landed 50 FIFTY feet in a Taco-Bell Parking lot. Have long-term Complex PTSD and it amazes me that there is not enough being done. All towards the war vets, which I volunteered with the Viet Nam vet's in the 80's. I now know what they were going through. Flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, almost throwing up and at times having to swallow it. I hope someday, SOMEONE will find help. That and get tougher with everyday drivers for they are MORE dangerous than drunk drivers!!!!!!!
I watched the show Saving Your
Life lastr night. I want to let you all know that I really enjoyed it and the information was great.

I would like to extend an opportunity to Lance Armstrong to join us as we Kayak the entire length of the Mississippi River, 2,350 miles, to raise funds for children's cancer research and Livestrong. You can read more about our organization at www.kayak4akure.org

Best,
Louis Breckenridge
Team Kure
louis@kayak4akure.com
806-223-3914
Matt

Thank you for all your work on the show and your involvement at the Summit. I was also a delegate at that Summit and could not agree more... I met the most incredible people at that summit. It changed my life as well!!

I am a 31+ year survivor of testicular cancer. I was diagnosed in 1975 at the ripe old age of 20. I was given a 50% chance of 2 year survival and a less than 10% chance of 5 year survival.

I remained silent for 30 years about my cancer for various reasons. Back then it was very very much a stigma and simply not something you talked about.

I WILL BE SILENT NO MORE!!

I truly hope I can reach even one person with my story that will convince them to get checked out when they feel something isn't quite right.. or to give them HOPE that there is indeed LIFE AFTER CANCER!

The people I met at the Summit were so full of life!! They inspired me like I have never been inspired before! I have always felt when you began to "feel sorry for yourself and what you had been dealt in life"... it does not require you to look far to find someone whom has suffered so much more... and the summit reminded me so clearly of that belief. What I endured 31+ years ago was certainly not fun, in fact it was hell on earth and all the time not really knowing if I would live or die, but what so many of these others endured makes my experience pale by comparison!

I am so deeply grateful to Lance and the LAF for allowing me that experience! I WILL make a difference!

I am leading a group of individuals planning a "northeast regional summit" including all states of New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and we are planning for September 2007.

We recognize as individuals we can do little, but by further building Lance's army and adding more and more recruits, collectively we can indeed make a difference one personal action plan at a time!!

I am willing to share my story with anyone wanting to listen.....

Again.. thanks to Lance, the LAF and CNN for helping me to finally listen to me inner voice reminding me of the "obligation of the cured".....
I HAVE BEEN FASCINATED BY THE MEDICAL COMMENTARIES, INSIGHTS AND MATERIALS OFFERED BY DR. SANJAY GUPTA IN HIS REGULAR APPEARANCES ON CNN. AND YET I HAVE WONDERED AT THE LACK OF INFORMATION ABOUT COMPLEMENTARY, HOLISTIC AND ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO HEALING. IT IS APPARENT THAT INTEREST IN THESE AREAS IS BURGEONING AND THAT THERE IS A THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE SUCCESSFUL, NATURAL, NON-TOXIC TREATMENTS WHICH ARE NOW WIDELY AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE.

MY OWN FATHER LIVED 26 YEARS AFTER HIS FIRST DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER. HIS SUCCESSFUL TREATMENT WAS LARGELY DIETARY AND NUTRITIONAL. I HAVE WITNESSED MANY "CURES" PERSONALLY THROUGH MY WORK OVER THE YEARS WITH THE FOUNDERS OF THE HIPPOCRATES HEALTH INSTITUTE. ONE OF THEM, DR. ANN WIGMORE TESTIFIED ABOUT THE EFFICACY OF THIS NATURAL THERAPIES BEFORE THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS MANY YEARS AGO AND HER CLINICS IN INDIA WERE WIDELY HAILED BY THE PRIME MINISTER THERE FOR THEIR EFFICACY IN TREATING CANCER, DIABETES AND AIDS WITH NUTRITIONAL THERAPIES. NUTRITIONAL MODALITIES OFFER HOPE FOR HEALING AND RESTORED HEALTH TO MANY WHO HAVE WANDERED DOWN DEAD-ENDS AND HOPELESS AVENUES IN THE LABYRINTH OF CONVENTIONAL WESTERN MEDICINE. I WOULD STRONGLY URGE THAT DR. GUPTA AND CNN EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITY AND FEASABILITY OF SPREADING THE AWARENESS OF THESE NON-CONVENTIONAL BUT SUCCESSFUL THERAPIES TO THEIR VIEWERS. YOU WOULD HAVE MY SUPPORT AND ENTHUSIASM FOR THAT. RICHARD G. TASCA, JR. AUTHOR, FOUNDER, THE MERCY FUND INCORPORATED.
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on you. You do a program on cancer and don't even mention the number one cancer killer of both women and men. Lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the number one cancer killer of women long, long ago. Very few women know this fact. And no one is safe from this cancer. People think only people who smoke get it, but there are many of us out here who did not smoke and still got lung cancer--SECOND HAND SMOKE. Even though it is the number one cancer killer all over the world, very little research is done on it in comparison to the other cancers. I suspect the public is so unaware of lung cancer because so few lung cancer patients(somewhere between 11 and 13 percent of those diagnosed with it) survive as much as a year. You had a wonderful opportunity to educate the world about this and did nothing. Could you not find a lung cancer survivor to appear on your program? Probably not.
my first comment is regarding cancer itself..why are we "running for the cure" wgwhen we should be running for the understanding of the cause..first we had to understand AIDS was a viral illness, before researchers could go into the lab trying to find some antiviral agents?!
My second comment is about Lance..I'm truly awed by him, and i certainly don't want to say i don't believe him..but his recovery equels a "miracle" - since his cancer was discovered "too late"..how on earth did he survive..I'm concerned about this issue, because it sends the message, that it's up to the patient if he'll live or die, because the recovery is all about willpower..this is the most unfair pressure one can put on a cancer patient..i wanna know how Lance recovered when his cancer already spread to other parts of his body..thanks
I was greatly impressed to read the essay by Lance Armstrong and even more pleased with "Saving Your Life." The fact that he is using his celebrity in such a positive and socially responsible way is remarkable. He is surprisingly eloquent and provides a much needed role model, not only for young people, but for all citizens.

My mother, father, and partner's father all have or have survived cancer. As an adoptee, I have no knowledge of my genetic risks of cancer. Consequently, my only option is to engage in as many risk-reducing behaviors as possible. I agree with some of the other posts, that prevention is key. As a health educator and a Michigander, I know first hand what happens to school districts and communities when health education is deleted from curricula and local government. I share the frustration described by Lance and others with the lack of federal concern about the need for robust and sustained research, education, and development for fighting cancer. I do, however, hope that equal pressure is put on local, state, and national standards for increasing the presence of standards-based, comprehensive health education in schools, institutions of higher education, and communities. Communities must adopt evidence-based policies on smoking; they must ensure that neighborhoods are safe for children to walk to school, to play on playgrounds; they must incent citizens to eat healthy, participate in community physical activity offerings, and engage in regular health and medical checkups--for children and adults.

Only through a balance of education, research, development, policies, and dissemination of resources (including access) will communities develop their full capacity to fully engage in the battle against cancer.
I watched the Lance Armstrong special on 1-14-07 and was VERY Disappointed. I have been battling Cancer for the past 8 years with two separate rounds of Chemotherapy. I am looking for more focus on the role of nutrition and the body healing itself. Why is there not millions of dollars focusing on some alternatives to the Chemotherapy/Radiation? I do appreciate the focus on Prevention and Healing and early diagnosis.
David A. Wells
Fairfield, Iowa52556
I watched your CNN special "Saving Your Life" with Lance Armstrong. My husband is a testicular cancer survivor. His cancer had spread into his abdomen. Your show sent a strong message about the importance of early detection. The statistics on survival were substantially higher when the cancer was caught before it had spread. I'm curious whey the American Cancer Society doesn't change the minimum age for screenings. Breast cancer at 40? Colon cancer at 50? Am I the only one hearing about women in their 30's being diagnosed with breat cancer and others dieing of colon cancer in their 40's? As long as the ACS keeps those miminum age requirements the insurance companies won't pay for screenings. If early detection is that important the ages should be lowered. Maybe we should start there.
Thanks for the great START with this program from a Summit attendee -- who shares your feeling of inspiration from all the survivors present in Austin.

Is there any chance that CNN might offer this program as a DVD? I sent a load of emails promoting the program, but think giving out DVDs might have an even more far-reaching effect. Also, will the program be rerun?
Thank you for this story. I plan to use it with my university students here on the Arabian Peninsula in the lovely, peaceful country of Oman.

I believe this story will encourage them to stay strong and live well. As Oman adopts more and more of the bad aspects of Western diets, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer on a rapid rise here.

I LOVE the remarks about STRONG 81-year-old Julia and the ones about 6-year-old Spencer who can do a tremendous amount of good at his tender age.

Thank you. You have no idea how many people this little blog will inspire.

Kathy Ewing, Ph.D.
Sultan Qaboos University
Sultanate of Oman
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