Friday, July 3, 2009

Lance Armstrong - Why I Ride


by Lance Armstrong

About a year ago, during our LIVESTRONG Summit in Columbus, Ohio, I started thinking about returning to professional cycling. I knew I could compete at the highest level of racing but this time I was motivated from a different perspective.

Meeting so many people over the years…so many survivors…has built in me an ever greater sense of urgency addressing the hurdles in cancer control and, ultimately, telling survivors’ stories. The stories tell it all. The triumphs and challenges are all part of the LIVESTRONG community and the human narrative. That collective, grassroots movement built by all of you has been remarkably powerful for me personally and also powerful in moving cancer back into the consciousness of decision makers.

That energy is why I am riding again: to make cancer a global priority.

A GLOBAL SOCIAL MOVEMENT
Cancer will be the leading cause of death, globally, in 2010. This disease affects 28 million people worldwide. Its projected growth over the next 20 years statistically dwarfs other diseases. In many parts of the world, cancer is considered a death sentence. Survivors are labeled and cruelly stigmatized. With 30 to 40 percent of all cancers being preventable, a shared global strategy that combines prevention and innovation is essential. As LIVESTRONG and our partners continue to build a global social movement, it’s imperative that we tie the strands of all disease control together to be more effective.

We know the numbers. We know various ways to control this disease. We know how to better care for those suffering. We know where triggers exist. Simply put, we know a great deal. What is missing in this equation is a global focus supporting those who are suffering in silence, organizing community action and aggressively developing the most innovative research.

THE SUMMIT AND BEYOND
The purpose of the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit is to draw the eyes of the world to the global cancer burden and also the challenges of stigmatization. Our Dublin Summit and global campaign will provide a platform for telling the stories and highlighting the outstanding work going on around the globe to alleviate the pain and suffering of cancer. Over the last six months, our LIVESTRONG team and I have met with various prime ministers, health and finance ministers, parliamentarians, cancer experts, NGO leaders, advocates and, of course, survivors to see how can we continue to push for fresh investments in cancer control. We have asked leaders all over the world to offer new “commitments” in making cancer a global priority. The response has been tremendous and this same cross-section of leaders – well-known and not so well-known – will all be collaborating in Dublin for two and half days of forward-thinking action.

We will see participation from all five continents, 62 countries, over 300 commitments and an anticipated 500 delegates, joining together in Dublin from August 24th-26th to make cancer a global priority. The growing global network of advocates spurred by this Summit has committed roughly $200 million in fresh investments, just as a start. Government commitments are estimated in the billions. While financial contributions are obviously important, other leaders will be using the Summit to announce significant policy shifts, advocacy campaigns or direct services to survivors. So, the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit is providing the license and platform in which to highlight great advances and collaboration on the next steps for action.

Some examples include:

Jordan:
$300 million for the King Hussein Institute for Biotechnology and Cancer, funding three cancer control initiatives, including creating an Office of Advocacy and Survivorship

Netherlands:
The Dutch Cancer Society will be introducing web-based clinical trials.

China:
The Chinese Anti-Cancer Association is planning to screen 530,000 women per year in 30 provinces

Brazil:
TUCCA (Brain Tumors Assoc. for Children and Adolescents), will be building the first pediatric hospice in Brazil

Australia:
$2 billion in the new Australian government budget for cancer control

LET’S CHANGE THE EQUATION
Building a social movement takes time, focus and ultimately an impassioned, consistent and active chorus of voices for change. LIVESTRONG has become a community for people from all over the world doing just that. While the Dublin Summit and continuing global campaign provide an occasion for elected leaders to tell their stories and exhibit truly innovative practices in combating this disease, it is also about individual advocates, multilateral organizations, NGO’s and community-based leadership all over the world working together. LIVESTRONG can only accomplish progress in partnership with others, collaborating across all sectors on prevention and innovative practices.

It’s so empowering to see individuals all over the world advancing this issue in the most creative ways. It’s also encouraging to see more leaders in power taking innovative steps. LIVESTRONG chooses lead as a source for inspiration, knowledge and by offering the tools to build this newly emerging global social movement.

What a great reason to ride again.

Lance Armstrong

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