In 1996 at the age of 25, Lance Armstrong found himself struggling for his life against testicular cancer that had spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen. He was eventually classed as cancer-free and created a foundation with the purpose of helping others manage life through and beyond a cancer diagnosis. This foundation is known as the Livestrong Foundation, and is also known by many as the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). Over $500 million has been raised through the Livestrong Foundation for the fight against cancer, and 82% of those funds have gone directly to support their programs and services for survivors.
In 2004, the now-iconic yellow Livestrong wristbands became an international phenomenon. Thanks to its partnership with Nike, the foundation has sold more than 87 million wristbands. I myself have a yellow wristband from the foundation which I wear every time I go cycling, to remind myself how much of a hero and legend Lance Armstrong is and always will be.
The Livestrong Foundation has helped more than 2.5 million people to date.
In 2012, Lance Armstrong resigned his leadership role with the foundation. He remains the foundation’s single biggest donor and the progress he has helped generate with the field of cancer survivorship stands as a lasting legacy.
Lance is one of my biggest idols, so I am honoured to be able to interview Andrew Tanker from the foundation. Here is what he had to say:
Ellie: What is your role with the LIVESTRONG Foundation?
Andrew: As the public relations manager at the LIVESTRONG Foundation, I work diligently each day to collaborate with the rest of our talented staff members and all of our dedicated partners to improve the lives of people affected by cancer now. My particular focus is in disseminating information about the Foundation’s free cancer support services and programs to ensure that each and every survivor has the information and access to receive the help that they may need during their cancer journey.
E: Can you explain more about the Foundation’s involvement with the National Action Plan?
A: The National Action Plan for Cancer Survivorship was developed in 2002 through a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the LIVESTRONG Foundation to identify and prioritize cancer survivorship needs that will advance cancer survivorship public health efforts. Many public health initiatives address early detection, prevention and control of cancer, but there are now a growing number of cancer survivors living with, through and beyond cancer, whose needs remain unmet. The plan aimed to establish a greater awareness among the general public, policy makers, researchers and advocates of the role they need to take to improve the overall experience and quality of life of the 14 million American cancer patients and survivors. Since the plan was created, cancer issues have gone even beyond a national platform and been placed on a worldwide stage with the help of the LIVESTRONG Foundation and its work in the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summits, Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Survivor Empowerment Initiatives and the seven U.S.-based LIVESTRONG Survivorship Centers of Excellence.
E: Has the Foundation changed at all since Lance’s resignation?
A: The Foundation’s success has never been based on one person – it’s based on the patients and survivors it serves every day, who approach a cancer diagnosis with hope, courage and perseverance. The Foundation listened to their needs and took action to create free cancer support services that offer access to clinical trials, fertility preservation and insurance coverage. People living with and through cancer are the inspiration behind the Foundation’s work. They have been, are and always will be our focus.
E: How many volunteers do you get at the Foundation a year and what do they do?
A: In 2012, 1,630 dedicated volunteers and interns put in 54,128 hours of work on behalf of the LIVESTRONG Foundation — a number that has grown each year since 2007. Volunteers touch nearly every aspect of our work to improve the lives of people affected by cancer from top to bottom through our board of directors, our worldwide LIVESTRONG Leaders program, Team LIVESTRONG events and day-to-day tasks in the Foundation’s headquarters in Austin, Texas.
E: How can people donate to the LIVESTRONG Foundation or help out if they are in Australia?
A: There are dozens of ways to get involved with the LIVESTRONG Foundation, regardless of your location. We welcome anyone to take action on behalf of the 28 million cancer patients and survivors in the world by joining us as a LIVESTRONG Leader, participating in LIVESTRONG Day, one of the many coalitions we support, or joining a Team LIVESTRONG event. Anyone can also start a grassroots event or simply donate to the Foundation through our website. For more information on how you can take action, visit http://www.LIVESTRONG.org/TakeAction.