#192 The Futility of Disease Bands

...for lack of a better term.

I’m talking about the silicone bands that everyone is wearing these days. They started, or at least became insanely popular, with the yellow Livestrong band sold by Lance Armstrong’s foundation. In case anyone is wondering, they were yellow because that is the color of the jersey that the leader of the Tour de France wears. It’s the color of a winner.

The Livestrong band was designed to raise money for Armstrong’s cancer foundation and it did a good job. For a short time you could spot celebrities and politicians wearing the band. It was a sign that you were doing something to stand up for cancer. Then, a rainbow of knock-off bands came out and it all went to hell.

I never wore the Livestrong band. I wanted to, but, never got around to buying one. By the time I tried to buy one they weren’t available on the website as just one band. You had to buy them in bulk for resale at your local event. I couldn’t find any in the town I was living in either.

Three Years Ago

This September will be three years since my sister-in-law was diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma ovarian cancer. I think that’s right. The prognosis wasn’t good right from the start. After her surgery my wife and I drove up to Washington to spend time with her, my brother, and their 9-month old boy. Everyone was being optimistic but the reality was that she didn’t have much time.

Shortly after walking in the door at my brother’s house my wife and I were given blue-green bands that say “Jessica We Love You” on one side and, “Faith - Hope - Strength - Courage” on the other side. Apparently the color was “for” ovarian cancer. Not sure who decided that. I put the band on and haven’t taken it off since.

I’ve tried to think about why I put the band on and never took it off. I think it’s because of the helplessness that comes with cancer. Whether you have it, or you know someone with it, there doesn’t seem like there is much that you can do. Wearing the band feels like doing something. It feels like support. It’s designed to increase awareness.

Did It Work?

So, how much awareness did I raise? None. After wearing the band for nearly three years only one person has ever asked me what it was for. These bands are so ubiquitous that they’ve become invisible. Some people don’t even know what they’re for or what they’re used to be for.

I was at the dentist a couple weeks ago and my dentist saw my band. He’s a weird guy and doesn’t give you much of an opportunity to speak. He just comes in during the cleaning, makes a bunch of jokes, and quickly leaves. Oh, he cashes his fat check for three minutes of work right after that. This time, he flicked my band and said I must like to workout outdoors because I’m wearing the Armstrong band. What? That doesn’t even make sense!

I’m Done

So, today, on the one-year anniversary of my sister-in-law’s death, I’m taking off the band. I’ve done all I can do with it. The time of the bands is over because there are too many on the market. My brother is moving on, in fact, he’s getting married in twenty days, so it’s time for me to move on. 

I thought that wearing the band would help me remember Jessica. Now, I don’t think so. Since the dentist incident I’ve been thinking about the band and what it’s supposed to do. Part of what it’s supposed to do is help you remember. Well, not a day goes by that her last moments don’t go through my mind. My screen saver on my computer and my TV includes thousands of pictures I’ve taken. It only takes a minute or two before a picture of her comes up. So, I don’t think I’ll forget her any time soon.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field...if I ever get a project requiring me to hire people!