Sitting at a restaurant bar in Las Vegas was the last place I thought a profound question would be asked — and one that would truly hit my core.
But when a stranger sitting next to me asked me why I wore the yellow Livestrong bracelet, I turned to look at him and saw he was serious. The “fad” to wear it has come and gone with Lance Armstrong’s last Tour de France victory. To wear it now – especially since it’s not exactly a fashion statement, the man said, chuckling nervously – there must be meaning behind it.
And he asked me for my story.
Sitting next to my best friend, and I told this man that my friend’s husband died six months earlier from lung cancer, and since that time I have only taken the bracelet off for one day. I told him the bracelet also honored my mom, who years ago died of breast cancer.
I believe the bracelet is a symbol of strength, perseverance and sacrifice – sacrifice, because cancer is a disease that affects both the sick and healthy. It’s a disease that can take away someone’s life, but also someone’s father, mother, spouse, sibling and child.
I believe the bracelet represents family, friends, survival, death. I wear it for unity – to bring together those who have been there and survived, those who are now battling the disease and those who have been touched by cancer by way of family and friends.
I believe it’s up to us to educate, take pro-active measures to detect cancer early, and to push forth relentlessly in supporting research.
I wear the bracelet with courage, with the knowledge I am at high-risk for breast cancer, and that knowing, at age 36, I am one year away from my mother’s age of diagnosis. I wear it knowing that when I look at my daughter, she could fall victim to the illness as well. And when I look at my husband, I know he could lose his wife.
I wear the bracelet because I am confident a cure for all cancers will be found. To those who have passed on, my prayer for them is that their battle will one day be vindicated; that through their fight, answers will be found and lives, saved.
I did not bore this poor man with the vast majority of my thoughts, but he said at the end of our brief conversation that since he received his Livestrong bracelet – given to him after a colleague’s father died of cancer – he started asking people why they wear theirs.
He said: “Everybody has a story to tell.”
If wearing this bracelet does anything for anyone, I hope it reminds them of the disease that touches so many lives.
I believe that one day, more and more survivors will tell their own story instead of their family doing it for them.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.