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Live well, and live strong

MY VIEW • Saturday's challenge aims at saving 1,500 lives daily
by: , Armstrong

Forty years ago, before President Nixon declared the 'war on cancer' in 1971, a cancer diagnosis was practically a death sentence.

Until recently, it also was something people didn't talk about - something discussed only with doctors and family members, never something that would be part of a national dialogue, especially among our nation's leaders.

This situation, thankfully, has changed. New research; new ways of thinking and talking about the disease; and new treatments have created an ongoing dialogue about cancer and improved the possibility of finding a cure.

As more people challenge long-held and damaging notions about the disease, progress is being made.

After my diagnosis and treatment - in this new era of awareness and hope - I became determined to lead a movement that fundamentally would change the experiences and expectations of cancer survivors.

Since the Lance Armstrong Foundation was established in 1997, millions of people have united with us to make cancer a national priority and end the needless death and suffering from the disease.

Although progress has been made, we cannot be complacent. Unacceptable gaps exist between what we know about preventing, screening for and treating cancer - and what we do with that knowledge.

Despite numerous advances, the future for many people with cancer often is determined by factors that have nothing to do with the disease itself - ethnicity, insurance coverage, economic stability, age and proximity to a treatment center.

As a result, 1,500 Americans lose their lives to cancer every day. This is unacceptable. This is something that has to change.

On Sept. 30, the foundation will host the third annual Portland LiveStrong Challenge. I'm inviting you to unite with us and once again bike, walk, run, volunteer or donate as a way to inspire and empower people affected by cancer.

The dollars we raise and, more important, the message we send will have an enormous impact.

The LiveStrong Challenge is just one way people in and around Portland can join the fight. Adopting better habits - a healthy diet, an exercise plan and regular checkups - while encouraging friends and family to do the same, is the easiest thing people can do to prevent cancer in themselves and the people they care about.

Supporting local organizations that provide treatment and care, survivorship resources, and innovative research is another step. Fortunately, more and more lawmakers are giving people the power to create change.

Oregon is one state leading the way, with its ballot measure to increase cigarette taxes in support of the Healthy Kids initiative that would help Oregon children gain access to doctors, medicine and much-needed prevention and treatment services.

The plan also will encourage current smokers to quit, while discouraging potential smokers - most often young people - from ever starting the deadly habit.

Policymakers and policies are only as effective as the citizens they govern; it is up to us to stand up and support laws and regulations that we know will benefit us and our communities.

You have the opportunity to unite with us and help save hundreds of thousands of lives and help improve the lives of those already affected by cancer.

You have the opportunity to show your support in your own community and join with thousands of others in and around Portland who want to make a difference.

You have the opportunity to insist that our leaders do more to stop the No. 1 killer of Americans under 85. Together, we will send the message that we will make a difference and that we've only just begun to fight. Unite with us.

For information on the 2007 Portland LiveStrong Challenge and to register, volunteer or donate, visit:

www.livestrongchallenge.org

Cancer survivor Lance Armstrong has won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times.