Why Join the Lance Armstrong Foundation? Because It’s the Right Thing to Do.

Heidi Adams — By on October 22, 2009 at 8:39 pm

So. Wow. ☺

If you haven’t heard the news, Planet Cancer is now officially a program of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and we couldn’t be more thrilled, for LOTS of reasons!

I’ll go into that in a minute, but first, before we go any further, I’d like to re-post Courtney’s Very Important FAQs:

Top Five Most Important Questions About Planet Cancer + LAF

By Courtney Clark

1) Will MyPlanet still exist?
Of course! But with the additional reach of the LAF’s global network, MyPlanet will be able to reach and help even more young adults facing their cancer diagnosis alone.

2) Does Heidi look good in yellow?
Heidi looks good in everything. Don’t be silly.

3) Is Lance helping you carry your boxes from the old office to the LAF headquarters?
No. I asked, but he’s in meetings today.

4) Why did this happen?
The Lance Armstrong Foundation has long been committed to improving survival rates and quality of life for young adults with cancer. By officially taking on Planet Cancer’s programs, they’re magnifying OUR nationally-recognized expertise in YA cancer with their global platform, and we’ll combine forces to raise our voices to the medical community and the world at large about this often-overlooked group of patients. You.

5) Will the website still say “We’ve done drugs Keith Richards never heard of”?
Yes.

Planet Cancer remains; we’re just operating from a different address. So don’t worry that our attitude, our logo, our community or our programs are going away—they are here to stay!

That said, because we always try to be pretty transparent here on Planet Cancer, I wanted to let you guys know a little bit about our thought process for all this, and why it seemed clear that this was the right thing to do. So….here goes.

I believe that we have achieved Phase I of the mission we set forth when I first started Planet Cancer back in 2000: we have successfully built a community of young adults where none existed before. We have a voice and an identity. And now there is widespread and growing recognition of young adults as a distinct group with unique needs. The National Cancer Institute recognizes us. Many cancer centers are starting AYA programs. There are numerous non-profits addressing various pieces of the young adult cancer experience. Planet Cancer’s peer support programs—My Planet, the retreats—are solid and growing. So—check! Mission accomplished for Phase I.

But then, what’s Phase II?

In my opinion, Phase II is time to really hit hard the root issues and problems facing young adults with cancer: the lack of improvement in survival rates. The delay in diagnosis. Lack of access to care. The lack of knowledge about young adult tumor biology and appropriate treatment protocols.

These are huge challenges. To overcome them means that we need to significantly ramp up the level of advocacy and awareness, because it doesn’t matter how great My Planet is, or how great our retreats are, if the docs and nurses who need to refer people to us don’t—because THEY DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM.

We know it needs to be done. But to do it as fast as we want—because we feel these problems are urgent—well, we need a partner. One with reach and credibility and resources. One that is as committed as we are to the cause of young adults with cancer. And there’s really only one group that fits the bill: the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The LAF has, more than any other organization, put a stake in the ground on the young adult cancer issue. They have invested significant amounts of money in spearheading national research meetings and in developing and supporting the activities of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance. They are funding development of a biorepository for young adult tumor tissue to spur research. They have made young adults an identified priority population. They have funded numerous smaller young-adult focused non-profits. And, on a personal note, they are led by two poster children for young adult cancer: CEO Doug Ulman, and that guy who rides the bike.

Over the years, our activities have aligned ever closer with the LAF, particularly as we at Planet Cancer tried to do our part to achieve the recommendations set forth in the AYAO PRG report—that national scientific meeting I mentioned earlier. Over time, it became clear that we should streamline our efforts and just, you know, get hitched. ☺

There is much emotion attached to this for me. I have poured my heart and soul into Planet Cancer for 9 years, as has everyone who has worked with me and supported our mission: former staff members, Board members, volunteers, and you—the members of our community.

But while we have achieved so much, I believe with all my heart that this is the right step to take our mission and our community to the next level. The acquisition combines the funding, reach and credibility of the LAF with our knowledge and insights into how best to serve the young adult with cancer, and wraps it all up with our mutual commitment to these patients and survivors. We’re going for bigger and better, because we’ve never thought small!

Make no mistake–this is quite the milestone and, I think, one to be savored. I wanted to thank each of you for your support and contributions to the success of Planet Cancer over the last 9 years. As I’ve said so many times, our community is only as good as the people who participate in it, and I thank you for pouring your hearts and souls into it just as I have.

So now it’s time to take it to the next level. Ramp it up! We have a new global platform, a renewed sense of purpose and energy, and we’re ready to bring it, powered by LIVESTRONG.

So watch out, cancer. Here we come!

Read more:
Why Join the Lance Armstrong Foundation? Because It’s the Right Thing to Do.

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