Blogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By on March 12, 2009 at 2:55 am

I remember sitting at the Livestrong conference this summer listening to Lance Armstrong relay a story about work going on around LAF’s Global Cancer Campaign. At one point, as he sat with Doug Ulman (LAF CEO) during meetings with top doctors & global dignitaries, Doug leaned over to Lance and said- “This is fun.” And Lance told the audience that his response was “It’s only fun if we win.”

Of course this is Lance Armstrong we’re talking about- 7 time champ of the Tour de France. From “Winning isn’t the only thing, it’s everything” (UCLA Bruins coach Russell “Red” Sanders & Vince Lombardi) to “If you ain’t first, you’re last” (Ricky Bobby), we are a culture obsessed with winners. And as one who is competitive, I’ve always gone along with the idea that victory is only achieved when you wipe the field with the other team.

But when Lance said that to the Livestrong audience, I remember thinking that judging victory in cancer solely by “winning” maybe worth another look. After all, many cancer survivors, like Dan, don’t see the ultimate victory in being cured. There are 100s of cancers, and to ask for a cure sets a high bar, and one that may be unrealistic in our lifetime. This is not a “one-size-fits -all” solution. Many cancer survivors would be ecstatic if their cancer could be managed as a chronic disease- like diabetes or AIDS. Or if genetic testing could even narrow down the treatment options so that they avoid toxic and crippling treatments as a cruel form of trial & error.

The day I heard Lance speak was about 3 weeks after we’d found out the Dan’s cancer had spread. I knew that even then, if Dan’s “win” could only be fun if he was cured, than we were in trouble. If he passed on from cancer, we would surely say that he “lost his battle”. But as many of you’ve pointed out, Dan’s story isn’t a straight win/lose scenario. There are more ways to win than just judging the score.

To prove my point, I went to the dictionary and looked up the word “win”. Of course, the first definition is “to finish first”, closely followed by “to gain victory”. Then it gets more to my (our) point here on this blog… here are more definitions of “win”….

1. “To succeed in reaching (a place, condition) by great effort”- such as a “place” like peace, acceptance or enlightenment… a “condition” like compassion or infectious advocacy

2. “To get by effort, competition or conquest”- such as getting through treatments and still living a normal life or making the effort to help others instead of yourself, and ending up with a foundation that will outlast you

3. “To gain (a prize or fame)”- such as having numerous articles written about your work and many friends to share your story which will continue to pay forward

4. “To gain (favor, love, consent) as by qualities or influence”- favor, love & consent gained in all areas of a life by merely staying true to who you are a person (and who you were before cancer)

5. “To gain the support of”- such as delivering speeches and having the audience listen to the message, whether the audience are high school students, corporate executives or cancer survivors

6. “To persuade to marry”- I don’t even need to say anything on this one! but quite true :)

So, I guess the story here fits the definition of winning in more ways than one. And I think Mr. Armstrong will agree as well, especially since he is riding this year to spread the cancer awareness on a global level, and that #8 would be gravy.

Babe- Waeger Will Win. You show us the way, and we will make sure we’ll continue the movement. And of course, we WILL have FUN above all else.

Please read the complete article and let us know what you think below.

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