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.
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