Tuesday, October 23, 2012

a tale of two men

John Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1964, at age 57, and underwent successful surgery to remove his entire left lung and four ribs.  Wayne chose to announce he had lung cancer and called on the public to get "check ups" (early detection saves lives) captured in this old 60 second TV ad below, in spite of Hollywood PR efforts to prevent him from going public and hurting his image and career.

Then as today his chance of surviving 5 years was 15%. Crossing the 5 year mark alive and being declared ‘cancer free’ by his doctors … and in a line that could have been taken from one of his roles, Wayne drawled, “I licked the big C.”

John Wayne would actually survive another 15 years and make another 20 films before dying of stomach cancer in 1979, three years after filming his final film, “The Shootist” in which he stars as an aging gunfighter dying of cancer.

Since 1981, the John Wayne name has been committed by the Wayne Family to leading-edge cancer research and education, in memory of their father … John Wayne Cancer Institute

Lance Armstrong, a competitive cyclist and triathlete was diagnosed in 1996, at age 25, with stage III testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy. He was given a less than 40% chance of survival.

Long story made short he made some aggressive and alternate choices for treatment for maximum recovery. Four months later he was declared cancer free. This old 30 second Nike 'just do it' commercial actually captures him just after diagnosis before treatment.

His story over the decade and a half that followed would redefine recovery and surviving cancer. His unprecedented athletic accomplishments winning the Tour de France mesmerized US media resulting in legions of Americans who should never be seen in public in spandex dressing in hideously colored spandex, jumping on bikes and creating driving obstacles during the weeks surrounding Tour de France.

Most importantly people diagnosed with cancer and fighting to survive cancer had a healthy, living, pop-culture hero. The Lance Armstrong Foundation which evolved into the brand LiveStrong unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer.

Empowerment is essential when you simply feel less whether it’s from surgery or radiation or chemotherapy. No medical professional can give you a pep talk that equals seeing a fellow cancer survivor go from stage III to butt kickin’ the world!

Well, unless … “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” 

Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @ http://caregivinglyyours.blogspot.com/

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