Yeah, What She Said!

I doubt often watch the awards show, especially one contrived like the ESPY Awards, but I did tune in for a few moments the other night, to watch Robin Roberts, who you may know as Good Morning America co-host or as an outstanding SportsCenter anchor, accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

I have been watching Robin on television for more than half my life. When she told the world that she had breast cancer and then shared the experience of that ordeal with her audience, I was struck by her strength and courage. When she announced that she was in remission, I shared that joy with her. I know what that feeling is like.

Robin Roberts at the 81st Academy Awards

But sometime treatment for cancer can lead to other serious medical issues. And this was her case. She was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome. And again she showed her strength and courage. By discussing this diagnosis, the match registry run by the National Marrow Donor Program received a spike in donors — by an amazing 1800%. And thanks to a match, she received a bone marrow transplant and is now recovered and back to work.

She has made a difference in this world, just by trying to live her life to the fullest. The more I learn about her, the more I am inspired by her.

I bring her up today, because I am often struck by how I can be an inspiration to others. I feel like all I have done in my life was try to battle through and get past the hurdles that have been thrown in front of me. Some of them, like the two cancer diagnoses I have received, have been larger than the rest. But fundamentally, they were the same as the rest. Just something to get past. Something to get through. And what I have long thought and believed was that each of you who reads this would have done the exact same thing that I did – which was get up every day and do what I had to do to get past this hurdle. To never retreat, to keep trying to move forward, even in the darkest hour. Because to stop, to fail, to quit, frankly just cannot and will not be an option. Because all I wanted to do was see how this thing called life was going to turn out. And it was some stupid cancer at age 23 or age 38 that was going to take me down. Just like it didn’t take my grandma down when she was diagnosed at age 64 (lived into her 80s) or my grandfather (diagnosed 17 years ago and still going). Or my mom… or the 300 plus survivor/cyclists that will try to squeeze into one big photograph in Bourne, MA in two weekends as part of the PMC. If I or any of these people can provide inspiration to someone in good times or in bad, then I accept that, because I am inspired by all those people too.

Showing historic courage in 1992, Jim Valvano was diagnosed with cancer and told he had a year to live. He bravely fought the disease, and vowed that he would spend the rest of his life raising money to help find a cure for cancer. His V Foundation has been a leader in funding cancer research, and his acceptance speech at the inaugural ESPY Awards has become the stuff of legend: “To me, there are 3 things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number 1 is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number 2 is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number 3 is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that 7 days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

Ms. Roberts finished her acceptance speech the other night by taking us back twenty years what she witnessed in-person when former basketball coach Jimmy Valvano accepted the first Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Robin was backstage and was the next presenter after the memorable speech given by Valvano. This is the speech where cancer-stricken Jimmy V. implored us to “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”  Roberts recalled from Valvano’s speech when he said “We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s, it may save someone you love.” (her full speech here)

She then emotionally added “because of everyone who responded to his challenge… mine is one of the lives that has been saved.”
Boy, do I know that feeling. I’ve known it twice. I think about it every day.
I know that you have given to this cause before. I know that there are many great places to donate your money. But I guarantee you that your donation to the PMC and cancer research is going to save lives. Because of all the donations that have been coming in for years and years, lives are being saved. My life was been saved. Tomorrow – countless people are going to receive their own cancer diagnosis. And their chance of getting through it are better today than they have ever been in the history of medicine.
But some won’t make it. And I find that difficult, uncomfortable, and unnecessary. We can make this happen… all we need to do is to give the doctors and researchers the resources to continue their work and continue to find cures for cancer.
And each day, they are finding them. They are getting closer. More people are surviving. And I know they are grateful too.
So, with all that being said, my 7th PMC is only 2 weeks away. I am writing to ask you and about 200 of my friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and family members to again donate to help end cancer. Everything that I have learned in the past 17 years, since I was first diagnosed in 1996, about cancer research has led me to believe that cancer will be made history, possibly even in our lifetime.  But not without our help. That is why I ride the PMC – to help make this dream of a world without cancer a reality. Your continued emotional and financial support in all of this is what will make this happen.
Please take a moment this week to make your donation on my PMC webpage. Thank you for your continued support,



2 thoughts on “Yeah, What She Said!

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