Athletes and their public battles against cancer demonstrate the transcendent power sport. These inspiring stories show the parallels between an athletic career and a personal journey with cancer. Teamwork, physical preparation and mental strength are at the core of an athlete’s success.
A similar framework can be applied to one’s approach towards cancer. Studies suggest maintaining good social relationships can benefit an individual’s immune system, mental and physical health. Sports have biophysical, psychological and social benefits during cancer management and participation has been associated with lower-risk of cancer and cancer-related death. All of this emphasizes the tremendous potential for sport to be used as an effective intervention in cancer prevention, management and survivorship.
In March of 2020, we started recruiting a “Dream Team” of high-profile athletes who faced cancer. Inspirations like Mark Herzlich and Olympians, Kikkan Randall and Chaunte Lowe, responded with enthusiasm. It was clear from our conversations that there was a need for a common platform for encouragement and support, as well as a trustworthy resource for evidence-based information about the role exercise, nutrition and teamwork can play in the cancer experience.
Over the following months, we assembled our team and our vision became more refined. We decided to start a new chapter and officially became: Athletes Fighting Cancer. AFC understands that every patient and caregiver have different factors that lead to a unique, personal cancer experience. Consequently, language suggesting cancer is a “fight” or “battle” that produces “survivors” and “thrivers” can be triggering, or even offensive to some. However, we believe that fighting does not always mean the most aggressive treatment or pushing your body beyond your physical limits. We believe you do not have to be a high-level competitor or work-out enthusiast to be an athlete. We believe everyone has an inner-athlete and recognize the many ways people “fight cancer”. If you exercise the mind and body, you are an athlete. Meditation, yoga and running are all parts of athleticism, and our team is here for all levels.
“When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So, live… Live… Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.”
Stuart Scott – July 16, 2014
Learn more about how delicate language can be and the masterful interpretation of Stuart Scott’s words (as acknowledged by the man himself in his autobiography) through this article written by Eliza Berman for Slate: The Most Moving Thing About Stuart Scott’s Speech at the ESPYs
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