Monday, January 14, 2013
Because It's Not About the Bike
In August 2004, about four months into Finn's 3 1/2 years of chemo for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, my sister, Tara, came to Ohio. With her she had a bunch of yellow wristbands. LIVESTRONG bracelets. Yellow. Rubber. $1 a pop. Everyone had one. It was like the cool thing to wear.
For awhile. Quite awhile in fact.
I put one on. It was huge and fell right off my arm.
No worries. The child-sized ones fit, and Tara had a bunch of those, too.
So from that day on in 2004, I wore a LIVESTRONG wristband every day. Every second of every day. I wore it when I slept. I wore it when I showered (probably a good thing). It left my arm exactly two times: once in August 2008 when I was getting a manicure at one of those in-the-mall nail salons and the nail girl pulled it off before I knew what was happening, and once in June 2012 when I was at a friend's ranch and we were practicing roping. The wristband got caught and came off.
So twice in eight years did that wristband ever come off my arm. Pretty amazing. And possibly unhygenic.
And then a weird thing happened. In August 2012, Lance Armstrong, he of the 7 Tour de France titles, cancer survivor, founder of LIVESTRONG, said he would no longer fight the doping charges that had plagued him for years.
The next day, my 8-year-old LIVESTRONG bracelet broke and fell off my arm. Just dropped to the floor that morning when I was drying my hair.
Was this a sign? Was it time to stop wearing the wristband? Information was flying around on the Internet, of course. People, especially bike riders, were mad. Rightfully so.
People who donated to LIVESTRONG were mad. WTF was that all about? Since when did donating to cancer become a bad idea? Give me a break.
People vowed to stop wearing their wristbands because they were symbols of shame, cheating, lies, blah blah blah. I even read about a lawsuit where a couple who donated to LIVESTRONG were going to sue to get their money back. Morons.
So while I thought the timing of my wristband breaking was interesting, I didn't hesitate. I went straight to the drawer where we still had a little stash. There was still a child-size wristband waiting there for me. I have it on. And I will continue to wear it.
Because the yellow LIVESTRONG wristband isn't about Lance Armstrong. It's about awareness of a horrible disease that's one of the leading causes of death among children (and many adults, for that matter).
After all of this time, the yellow wristband is pretty much a part of my arm. But several times a day, it will get pushed up too far and I'll feel it. It will get caught in my shirt and I'll feel it. I'll look down and see it. And still, after 8+ years, I remember why I wear it. Because my kid, along with way too many others, had cancer. And that little yellow wristband -- regardless of who created it -- put cancer awareness on the minds of a lot of people who might not have thought about it otherwise. And until a lot more people are thinking about it and donating for a cure, we won't get one.
I'm grateful for the yellow wristband, no matter who brought it to the world.