Dear Lance ArmstrongMarch 9, 2012
Dear Mr. Armstrong,
Sit back and grab a latte. and thanks for taking the time to read this.
As you know, yesterday I issued you a little challenge via Twitter. When you come to the University of Buffalo to speak on April 28th, I would like to challenge you to a 50 kick off in the pool. Two lengths of the pool, kicking, with a kickboard. Proceeds to go to Teens Living With Cancer.
And you replied. Much to my surprise. Quite honestly…. I expected the police first, or to be ignored……. . But anyways….. here is the deal.
About a year ago I participated in a retreat for Teens Living With Cancer and my hour was all about fitness. We brought ther-a- bands for the teens and taught them some basic exercise. I was stunned to learn that when they had finished their chemo treatments they were told…. go on now…. go be healthy. Seriously? Seriously.
As you know there are some issues to consider when you leave chemotherapy and begin building your body from the ground up again. Prosthetics, atrophy, etc. These kids simply were not taught how to get fit. So they didn’t. Not because they are lazy, but because they didn’t know what to do.
Fast forward one year. We are two weeks away from completing the first ever (that we know of) fitness program for teens who have completed cancer treatment. Through this 8 week program, which is a fully funded research study by the way, they have learned how to get fit and stay healthy. We tested certain parameters in the beginning, and we will measure those improvements in another few weeks. We get together once a week and work out. We use ther-a-bands, walking, yoga, milk jugs filled with water.
Throughout the past 6 weeks, as we have chronicled here (see the end of this post for a list of those links) we have seen exponential growth in these kids. Beyond the research study parameters. They walked in the first night with their heads down and last night they were running. RUNNING. Like kids running across the yard playing ghost in the graveyard.
The Teens Living With Cancer program is part of Melissa’s Living Legacy, directed by Lauren Spiker. Ten years ago Lauren lost her daughter Melissa to this vicious disease, and Melissa made her mom promise to make it better for teens who would come after her. And she has.
This is a small grass-roots foundation. Two people work there, Lauren (Melissa’s Mom) and two-time Cancer survivor, Leah. Leah is working under a grant that runs out in June. These teens need her. They need her bad. She’s dedicated her entire life to helping teens who have to go through this, just like you have. I need to find the funding to keep her there.
Our friend Zach won your LiveStrong contest before he died a few years ago. She worked extensively with him. Zach died before he ever got to talk to you, but man getting your bike was one of the highlights of his entire life. You probably remember that video but click here if you don’t.A story for another time…. Zach is the one who connected all of us.
Remember what life was like when you were a teenager? I read your book, know what you were doing! Out riding your bike my friend. Yeah, I was swimming, kind of the same thing. I stayed home from prom because I had a swim meet. We were kids who thought of sports and life and all of that stuff. You’ve been through cancer, imagine if you had been through it at age 13. No one understands themselves much less life. Instead of worrying about prom you worry about your next round of chemo. Never mind global studies…. has the cancer spread? No you can’t come into my room because I am neutropenic but man…. wouldn’t I love to breathe fresh air.
Here is a video that beautifully shows you who these kids are…..
I love these kids Mr. Armstrong. I love them so much. I would do anything for them.
I am triathlon coach, a personal trainer, and I am a Registered Nurse. For a long time I was a Pediatric Nurse. Cancer has brushed my life more times and more ways than I ever want it to. I have stood at funerals where the coffin is smaller than me. I have held the hand of kids who have literally fought to their death. I have held parents in my arms the moment their child has passed. The worst…. absolute worst was the time I stood looking at a brain tumor on a CT scan, and over the computer monitor I looked into the room of a 6-year-old child whose parents were smiling and laughing as they played a game of go fish.
As I watched them I saw they were a happy family. Dad ran his finger’s through his son’s hair and mom handed him some animal crackers as he cried out so happily….. “Go fish.”. They called for me and I wasn’t allowed to say anything….. you can’t until the attending comes and you go in to speak with them together. I walked into that room absolutely shaking. What I wanted to tell them was RUN RUN RUN!!!!! GOOD GOD RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!! It is all normal right now but in 20 minutes we will walk in here and tell you that your son has a brain tumor and his chance of survival is jack shit. F*CKING RUN WHILE YOUR LIFE IS STILL NORMAL.
You know what I mean.
It’s one thing to tell us that we have a timeline on our lives, but it’s another thing to tell a child. And a teenager who is close to cutting the purse strings and at the point in life where they are dreaming….. and then they sit in a four walled room. People come in with gowns and masks and the smell of Purell makes them want to throw up.
You know what I mean.
So my challenge is this Mr. Armstrong; you are coming to the University of Buffalo on April 28th to speak. There’s a boatload of us coming to hear you. We can’t freaking wait. Meet me at the pool, you name the time. We will race. 50 yards of kicking, with a kickboard (so I can stare you down). Let’s raise some money. I bet $100 I can beat you. My coaching team QT2 Systems will donate $750, The Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival pledged $500, Score This !!! is on board too. I have someone who will rent a bus for the Teens to come and watch, The Syracuse SOS team is in……. a boatload of people have pledged money if this race happens. We could raise over a thousand dollars for Teens Living With Cancer. A thousand dollars. That will go far for this foundation. I promise you it will. I know it’s probably some sort of contradiction that LiveStrong helps raise money for another foundation….. but maybe just for one day it could just be a bunch of us kicking the sh*t out of cancer? Literally (Get it, 50 kick off?)
Have you ever been chicked?
We keep it small, Eggers vs Armstrong. Whoever wants to come and watch…. bring a donation. Our Teens on the deck screaming (for me of course).
Let me and the Teens involved with our amazing Fitness Program take you out for real Buffalo Wings (totally contradicting the lessons I taught them about nutrition….. but… we are talking Buffalo wings here). Meet them. See them. hear them. They have come so far and they look up to you.
Our friend Zach never got to have that phone call with you, maybe this is a way we could all look into the sky, smile, wipe the tears and say…… you brought us together buddy.
So that’s my challenge Mr. Armstrong. I will do anything for these kids. If I lose I will fetch your water during your speech! Babysit for you? One thing is for sure though….. I am not planning on losing. I am undefeated in my 50 kick of challenges (we’ve had one) and I am not letting go of the title. (hang on while I throw up, I have such a bad habit of issuing these crazy challenges….)
I told someone the other day I was going to issue you a challenge. They laughed at me. You’re something else Eggers…. they said. I am also a crusader in this fight against Cancer and this program we have going here at Teens Living With Cancer is my crusade. So win, lose, draw I move forward. I don’t have your name but I have the passion for the same thing you do….. creating a damn army to defeat this disease.
My Dad taught me that I could change the world. They can laugh at me all they want to, in my issuing of this challenge. Maybe you will not take me up on it, maybe you will. My Dad said I could change the world. My Dad knows everything. If he said I can…. I can. And that means I can challenge Lance Armstrong.
We will win this fight against Cancer somehow, someway. And we will keep Leah employed at Teens Living With Cancer and most importantly….. most importantly……..
We will honor the legacy of Melissa. She asked her mom to make it better for teens who have to go through this. We will keep that promise. I don’t know about you but if I ever lost my son my world would implode. Look at what Lauren has done with her grief…… she’s touched the lives of many. We must keep that going and we must keep it growing.
Let me know if you are interested Mr. Armstrong, and thanks for taking the time to read. Good GOD it was long!
Current 50 kick champ.
PS: If LiveStrong needs a Registered Nurse, Triathlon Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Consultant…… I am your girl. Figured while I had your attention I would try!
PPS: I will be competing in Texas 70.3 as well. I start an hour behind you which gives me ample time to assess your kick. Or lack thereof.
Here are some of the recaps from our last 8 weeks.