In light of the recent developments surrounding Lance Armstrong and the US Anti-Doping Agency, I’ve decided to come clean about a few things. I know that some of you who read this will likely be stunned and shocked because I have always spoken so highly of Lance and his foundation. But, the fact of the matter is that the truth must be told.
When I was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma at age 32, I was completely freaked out. My family was freaked out. There is no cure for the disease and it seemed like all we could find was bad news regarding survival rates and the effectiveness of available treatments. It was obviously a rough time for us. You would think that a situation like mine would be custom made for the support and services that LIVESTRONG allegedly provides.
Yeah, well, not so much.
Prior to beginning any harsh treatments, my girlfriend (now wife) wouldn’t stop nagging me about looking into fertility preservation. She was so concerned about wether or not we would be able to conceive a child after undergoing chemotherapy. We eventually found a lab in Austin that specialized in cryogenics. When we called to make an appointment, we were told that the cost of the service would be close to $2,000 because I had no health insurance. When we asked about possible payment/installment plans, etc., someone at their office recommended we call LIVESTRONG and ask about their SHARING HOPE Program.
We contacted the Foundation and had to fill out this enormous, one page application that consisted of three very tough questions: My name. My date of birth. My annual household income. Then I had to sign it! With a pen! Oh, and then I had to put the form into a fax machine and send it to LIVESTRONG! I can’t believe that they made me wait for nearly 2 whole hours before someone got back to me! And all they had to say was that I’d qualified for their program but the best they could do was assist us financially, knocking the cost of the fertility preservation from $2,000 to around $250, which would include a year of free storage.
REALLY? Saving me $1,750 and preserving a chance to have kids some day? You call that help?
Next LIVESTRONG’s Cancer Navigation Center demanded that they get involved in helping me find insurance that would allow me access to necessary, life-saving treatments. When we found the coverage, I was left with no other option but to go to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. What, I’m supposed to be impressed because it’s the #1 ranked Cancer Treatment Center in the country? Whatever.
Oh and by the way, how dare they provide me with a voice and a platform to share my story to help educate, encourage, and inspire others who may find themselves in situations similar to mine!
Let’s see… where was I? Oh, now I remember…
When I was selected to participate in a clinical trial that required me to travel to from Austin to Los Angeles every 28 days, their so-called “Foundation” connected me with a program that paid for my flights. Oh, yeah, BIG DEAL! What if I liked the idea of spending nearly $400 (more than my monthly car payment) every 28 days on plane tickets when I had no income because I couldn’t work? Did any of their “advocates” ever consider that? I doubt it.
Next was the bike ride. They basically forced me to get on a bicycle, alongside thousands of others, and ride an insane number of miles while raising money to support those affected by cancer. Do you have any idea how sore my legs were after that? Were they trying to bring my family and I together and unite and inspire tons of people? What good is that going to do? And convincing other people to run and walk? Let me guess, Lance. You must think exercise is a good thing? Geez. WAKE UP! Give me back my BigMac and my couch!
It’s so liberating to finally get all of this off of my chest!
When my short-term health insurance plan expired and I had been denied coverage by numerous providers, LIVESTRONG probably thought I’d be real impressed when they showed up with a new program that would cover me even though I had a serious, pre-existing condition. What, so they just assumed that I would need health insurance to fight a disease that’s trying to kill me everyday? Come on. Get real.
Oh, and when that same insurance plan decided to deny me coverage of an exciting new clinical trial that has the potential to allow me and my family to walk away from cancer forever, would the people at LIVESTRONG just decide to jump in and assist me once again?
Of course they did. How convenient.
And now, low and behold, the insurance provider decided to reconsider their denial and I’ll be starting this new clinical trial in a couple of weeks with all expenses covered. Let me guess, I’m supposed to be excited about that too? Like beating cancer and living a normal life is just soooo cool and awesome? What’s next? Are you going to tell me that my wife now has hope that we may be able to have a family some day and enjoy a long life together?
I don’t know who’s in charge over there but maybe this note will catch someone’s attention. And maybe, just maybe, LIVESTRONG will stop screwing people like me and, instead, focus on ways to actually help us (as they claim they do).
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!