LIVESTRONG

I mentioned in my last post that there are two things I find particularly upsetting about the Lance Armstrong affair. The first is what it means for my son to have deal with a  fallen hero. The other has to do with LIVESTRONG, an ironic name for an organization founded by a man who, in the end, lived weak.

Eight years ago my mother-in-law died of mesothelioma. She was buried with a LIVESTRONG bracelet. LIVESTRONG has been a favored charity of ours as well. Neither she nor I ever benefited directly from their services, but we believed in the work of the organization.

I do not personally believe that Armstrong’s actions reflect on the organization he founded, most especially since he has put distance between the two, presumably in hopes that his good works can overcome his exceedingly poor judgement. I believe we can only condem LIVESTRONG based on its own actions, even as I believe it would be wise for LIVESTRONG to continue to grow the distance between itself and Armstrong.

Here’s my issue: I, along with many others in the breast cancer blogosphere, have called a number of cancer non-profits to task. Komen, NBCC and others have been reviewed critically. As they should be.

But it occurs to me that I’ve not heard much in that regard when it comes to LIVESTRONG, which begs the question: has LIVESTRONG been exempt from scrutiny because of their affiliation with an American hero?

I honestly don’t know, but I speculate that all the “feel good” around both the man and the organization may have clouded our vision. That’s not to say LIVESTRONG‘s reputation is unworthy, or that it is anything short of the wonderful organization it purports to be. Only that a close look is in order. If they are clear in their mission, true in their leadership and  appropriate in their spending, I imagine a careful look would serve them well.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Scott Joy
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 09:18:53

    There surely has been scrutiny, most visibly the Outside magazine article a year ago and the recent New York Times article, but I find most of the criticism misguided. In particular, it is an essential mission, not a fault, to focus on cancer survivorship and support. The Foundation’s financial reports are published on their website, and charity watchdogs rate them highly. Judge for yourself. Through ten years of fundraising and volunteering, I’ve built great trust in and admiration for the people who work for the LIVESTRONG Foundation, and I support them wholeheartedly.

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 21, 2013 @ 11:40:35

      Thanks for your thoughts, Scott! I am not withdrawing my support of LIVESTRONG either. I certainly think they do great work, and while my personal interest in cancer charities are for those that focus on research, I am keenly aware of the critical services provided in the area of patient/caregiver support! My point is simply to question whether the transparency I’ve advocated for in regards to other non-profits is there in the case of LIVESTRONG. And in the coming weeks I’ll be looking into that.

      Thanks so much for your comments!!!

      Reply

      • Scott Joy
        Jan 21, 2013 @ 16:22:09

        I’m with you, Lori. I expect and appreciate good financial stewardship and transparency in organizations I support. I’ll look forward to hearing more from you!

  2. Kathleen Hoffman, PhD
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 12:31:43

    I’m very glad that you have written about this and have asked the tough questions about LIVESTRONG. Thank you for doing this.

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 21, 2013 @ 11:48:38

      It will be interesting to see what happens from here. I fear our readiness to sometimes throw out the baby with the bath water…

      Reply

  3. Jacques
    Jan 21, 2013 @ 02:48:37

    The Lance ARMSTRONG affair is seen from another angle over here in Europe, notably in France where the Tour de France and cycling is placed way about many other sports. Armstrong who was looked on as a hero for years, is now cursed for one simple reason: many people believed him, and he crossed them by the systematic use of drugs.

    The man in many ways continues to LIE about his wayward life. I am unsure whether he can be trusted at all for anything. Worse, Lance Armstrong was considered a god over here by many little people…and they would say that America once had a hero. The idea of the Wild Wild West and its conquest as well as America being a savior over here from totalitarianism is still prevalent. Armstrong falsely winning the Tour seven times, using drugs took another step for many Europeans to no longer believe America’s existence except for big money interests..

    People want to believe in heroes as they are rare, as people in general will never be heroes themselves, as people are generally cowards and not supreme achievers.

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 21, 2013 @ 11:47:47

      Your points are well taken, Jacques. And I appreciate deeply that the view from your side of the ocean is quite different.

      Yes, Lance Armstrong perpetrated a fraud. And yes, it reflects poorly on America. However (and this is not a justification by any means), when there was no one else on the podium who was “clean” enough to receive the title, perhaps the sport (dare I say ALL sports) needs to look within.

      I don’t know when or how our sports heros became what they are. Is this uniquely American? I doubt it, but we have more than our fair share I suspect.

      Contrast this: early this week I read a story about a man, Gene Rosen, a resident of Newton, Conn. A number of children who managed to escape the catastrophe at Sandy Hook Elementary School found their way to his home, where he took them in, fed them, gave the toys to play with and sought out their parents. He is, I would argue, a TRUE American hero. And he is being harassed by conspiracy theorists! (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/gene-rosen-sandy-hook-conspiracy-theory_n_2481912.html).

      These are the moments when I am ready to throw up my hands….

      Thanks for stopping by!!

      Reply

  4. Nancy's Point (@NancysPoint)
    Jan 27, 2013 @ 07:02:15

    Hi Lori, Thanks for writing about this. I’ve been really quiet about this because frankly, I don’t know much about the Livestrong organization and I’ve never been a fan of the man himself for various reasons. Ironically, (my timing is always off it seems) I am taking part in the Livestrong program at my local YMCA starting next week, so maybe I’ll be writing through that lens at some point. I do know my family and others have been asking for my opinion about this mess and I keep saying let’s separate the man from the organization. Is that entirely possible? I guess time will tell. Thanks for your thoughts and for posing the question.

    Reply

    • Lori
      Jan 28, 2013 @ 17:46:51

      Thanks for commenting, Nancy. I don’t know that I have much knowledge either, but I did feel the question needed to be stated, and the whole thing needs a Rachel-style review. Still missing her….

      Reply

  5. Stephanie Zimmerman
    Jan 27, 2013 @ 16:57:10

    Lori,

    I’ve been silent on this matter largely because I’m am still a tad shell-shocked [and] I’m looking through SO many, TOO many lenses: fellow survivor, late effects nurse practitioner, and cycling enthusiast [spectator only, mind you].

    All that to say, I appreciate your comments: Thank YOU!

    I’ve always maintained that a strength taken to an extreme necessarily becomes a weakness [and] unfortunately, I think Lance Armstrong’s attitude is illustrative of that statement.

    Finally, while it is my expectation that he be held accountable for his offenses, it is also my hope that he will be met with grace at the end of the day, or at least by the end of this life.

    Simply
    Steph

    Reply

    • Jacques de Guise
      Jan 28, 2013 @ 01:31:43

      I have been following this conversation for a while and have decided to place an article on my blog on the matter of Lance Armstrong. Seeing from American and European media, Lance seems to want to cycle again and that in competition. My personal philosophy is to forgive people who have made errors however it is difficult for me to do so because for more than 10 years, Lance has bullied everyone and millions of sports enthusiasts. Sorry cannot forgive a situation where the man knowingly took drugs for that time.
      Somewhere, sometimes, one must stay stop.

      Reply

      • Lori
        Jan 28, 2013 @ 17:40:03

        I hope you’ll include a link to your piece, Jacques.

        I largely concur…it is not, however, 10 years of taking drugs that is unforgivable in my opinion. Rather, as you state, it is the bullying, the law suits, the efforts to discredit and/or silence those around him who sought to speak out either against him or in support of the sport.

    • Lori
      Jan 28, 2013 @ 17:45:20

      Thanks for adding to the conversation, Stephanie! I agree this is very complicated, especially for those of us in the cancer community who held him as a model for the most we could ever hope for and/or benefitted from the incredible effort that is LIVESTRONG.

      We are all human…we all have potential for good and evil. While Lance Armstrong has inflicted pain on many (and the closer you are to him, the greater the betrayal), I agree he has a chance to wake up each day with the choice to do good.

      Reply

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