Over the past few days, following the recent win by the Indianapolis Colts over the Green Bay Packers, I have heard a number of people making comments about the #chuckstrong movement, and wondering why there seems to be so much attention given to the coach of an NFL football team who has been diagnosed with leukemia and has begun his battle against the disease. Some have made reference to the fact that all the attention trivializes other people without the high profile who have fought leukemia or other forms of cancer.
I could not disagree more, respectfully.
My opinion, for what its worth, is that anything that brings any awareness to this disease is a good thing. The more people can rally around the cause of cancer (leukemia), whether it be through money raised for research or prayers and support for people battling the hateful disease, the better.
Chuck Pagano is no different than any other person who is fighting a battle against cancer (or has fought). He is no different than my mother-in-law who lost her battle with leukemia ten years ago. He is no different than my mother who has battled cancer and is a survivor. What is different is that he has chosen to fight his battle in public and because he has a platform through his job as a head coach of a National Football League team, he can do it publicly. He could have easily resigned his position “due to health reasons” and gone away privately to begin his treatment, but that was not what he chose to do. He not only shared what he was going through (which is no one’s business but his own), but he also said that he was going to beat it, and that he would be back doing the thing that he loves the most. And God willing, and with the help of great doctors, and the support of his family, friends, football team, and community he may just do that.
#chuckstrong is a battle cry to never give up. It is a battle cry that his team took on this past Sunday. Against all odds, and after falling behind 21-3 to the Packers, the Indianapolis Colts who won only one game last year, did not give up – they fought back, all the way back and won the game in the last seconds. Football is just a game, and in the scheme of things doesn’t matter a bit, but the narrative of the comeback cannot be lost on anyone and may just become a metaphor for their coach’s comeback. The box score isn’t finished on Coach Pagano’s struggle with leukemia, and he may be behind on the scoreboard, but there’s still plenty of time on the clock for a comeback.
This is just the latest of any number of sports vs. cancer stories that have taken the “Never Give Up” mantra by the horns. I remember Lance Armstrong and what has become such a great story of his fight against cancer and his LiveStrong Foundation that works every day to raise awareness for cancer research. Every year, sports fans are reminded of Jim Valvano (Jimmy V) and his fight against cancer. We remember the speech he gave at the Espy’s where the Jimmy V Foundation was born, and has raised millions and millions of dollars for cancer research. “Don’t give up, Don’t ever give up”
Their message is one of encouragement, of strength, of togetherness that has touched countless people who have been diagnosed with cancer and battle it every day. Their message and their profile does not diminish any one else’s battle but rather enhances it, and gives it a public face and a public voice.
For information on the #chuckstrong campaign and its efforts to raise awareness and money for leukemia research go to http://www.colts.com/fanzone/chuckstrong.html
For more information on the the LiveStrong Foundation founded by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong visit http://livestrong.org.
And for more information on the Jimmy V Foundation in honor of Coach Jim Valvano go to http://jimmyv.org