Aug. 13, 2008

Ready to quit ?

Yesterday, all my good intentions of writing a very upbeat 100th post went down the drain when a woman in her mid-twenties attacked me verbally at our local post office. I have no idea what brought this on other than the fact that I was mailing some yellow bands to people who were kind enough to donate a little money for my fundraising efforts. So, one second I was enjoying a really nice day (after all it was a truely golden tuesday for the German Olympic squad and my Red Sox had won), the other this girl started screaming at me.

She got rather personal and in the end asked me if I were aware of the fact that I killed hundreds of people. I was stunned, to say the least, and first I really thought she was drunk. But then she explained how I, as a cyclist and being involved with the LAF, have this huge responsibility in people's death caused by doping and cancer. All I could think of was "WHAT?". I was too shocked to respond in style, I'm afraid.

I experienced all the crazy religious comments about how I was responsible for my illnesses, because I didn't pray enough or wasn't a good enough Catholic. I dealt with that, but it just never stops and quite honestly, I'm getting sick and tired of these people.

So, here it is: my very own pro and con list of why it would be a wise decision to quit:

  • no more trash-talking and rude people who can't make the difference between people involved in the fight against cancer and hobby-cyclists and those criminals using doping to cheat on their opponents and the fans
  • no more questions about why in God's name I'm raising funds for a US-Foundation when I don't get anything out of it (concerning tax breaks or monetary rewards)
  • no more explanations that being a mentor is not a paid position
  • no more explanations that I'm not doing this to hero-worship Lance Armstrong
  • not being disappointed when yet another person who promised to support my fundraising efforts doesn't follow up on his/her promise
  • I've never been a quitter and don't plan on becoming on in the future
  • I have the best support system in the world (you know who you are, but just to mention a few: Kate and Michael are always the first to build me up after another low point of my cancer-related activities)
  • Trash talking people come and go, but there's this amazing group of veteran mentors and staff at the LAF who inspire me on a daily basis. I'm part of a great team and plan on staying on it for years to come. You're not getting rid of me that easily ;-)
  • Being a mentor connects me to some of the most dedicated participants of the LIVESTRONG Challenge. We might not be the top fundraisers or win any of the LIVESTRONG Challenge awards, but we do have to overcome some very high obstacles. I honestly believe that you guys are more committed to this cause than some other who might have a higher total in their fundraising efforts. Letting down this group by giving up is not an option!
  • Being involved in the LAF's grassroots program connects me to some of the most wonderful volunteers that a foundation could wish for. I met a lot of these people at the summit in Columbus or read their stories on their blogs. I couldn't be more proud to be in their company and I won't disappoint you by giving up.
  • There are close to 3.000 deaths per day related to cancer in Europe. That's the casualties of 9/11 every single day... and that's just Europe. If I'm not involved in trying to change those statistics, how can I expect our politicians or other Europeans to get active, to write letters to our politicians, to get cancer research and early detection into the news?
  • Being involved in the fight against cancer truely is a matter of the heart and it's part of my life, it's personal and I have an obligation to keep on going and fight for my loved ones who've been touched by cancer: my mom, my grandma, my aunt, my cousin, my great-cousins, my great-uncle, my friends, etc.
What's important is to give it your best and at the end of the day feel good about what you were able to achieve. If it's recruiting one person to join the LIVESTRONG Army and get active in cancer advocacy, that's a good thing. If it means raising $5, that's good, too. If I won't make it to Austin this year (I have a deal with a sponsor who'd take care of the whole travel expenses if I manage to raise $2500), it's not the end of the world. It's not a sign of failure, although I hope like hell there will be a miracle (or another sponsor for that matter).

When it comes right down to it, the Cons are way more powerful and way more important than the Pros. I can deal with the stupidity and ignorance of some people now and again. I will continue to explain my side of the story to people over and over again. This is too important an issue to just quit.

It'll be tough, it'll hurt at times, it most likely won't earn me any appreciation in my country. But once an athlete, always an athlete: Giving up will never be part of my vocabulary!

Thanks for reading.
I'll keep the more upbeat post for my 101st post, I promise.


Obsessedwithlife said...

Aww--I just saw my pic on the sidebar! I usually read your blog on Google Reader so when I clicked on it today to comment I was pleasantly surprised. I'm sitting alone in an airport in Florida and it made me smile :).

Keep fighting. I KNOW all too well about ignorant comments and that's why we fight harder, right!? ;) prove them WRONG!


Scott Joy said...

Glad to read that you're in for the long haul, Henrike. Never, never, never give up!

Michael said...

Stick with the "CONS" Henrike.

Never underestimate the power of small groups of people who crazily dedicated to very worthwhile causes (in other words, all of us).

Brian Dowd said...

Keep focused on doing what you know is right! Do not let others get in your way of helping others and remember to be RUTHLESS in reaching your goals!

We are all better off having you with us in the fight! Keep your spirits up my friend.


Dee said...

Hang in there. We need you in this fight.


Henrike said...

Thank you all for your comments and cheering me on. I know I'll never step back from being involved with the LAF, sometimes it's just hard to block out those nasty incidents and move forward.

Rachel's right. This will be great motivation to work harder. And I'm glad I made you smile ;-)

I'll probably never will be "ruthless" trying to achieve my goals. To be honest, I never wanted to be ruthless. I think that's part of our appeal as mentors: to put helping others with their training and fundraising before our own aspirations. Never mind that some are amazing fundraisers, too.

In my opinion and from my experiences it depends very much on the region you're doing your fundraising, not just the personal efforts. In some regions, it's just hard to raise as little as $5 for the LAF (yep, I heard doper and criminal way too many times while doing some fundraising), and in some regions people are actually responding in a very positive way to donation requests. If someone would give me a dollar for every time I've heard the words "You're doing an amazing job. It's so important. I will definitely support you.", the LAF would have a lot of money to spend and I'd be one of the top fundraisers.

Here, most people don't react at all or just talk and don't follow up on their promises, and even though I followed the "Don't assume. Ask and people will surprise you" tactic, it's hard work to even get to the 1000 level.

I'm not complaining. For me, the most rewarding thing about the LIVESTRONG Challenge is meeting my small group of International mentees and being told that I actually helped them in some way or the other. This is why I'm a mentor. I'm more than happy to let the top fundraisers take the glory and the spotlight. The rest of us will sit in the back and applaud them.

Thank you lovely fellow mentors for always being there for me. That's what I meant: best support group ever!!

Kate said...

I'm so, sorry, Henrike.

I get depressed and discouraged that I've not done enough (and about other things that I won't even BOTHER to mention now as they seem so comparatively insignificant), but I've never had to suffer the abuse of strangers over this issue. I should remember how much harder your job is and (well - I don't forget this part) how inspiring and impressive your efforts are.

We DO need you, Henrike (as Dee said). That's why I was so annoyingly insistent that you get to the Summit. And you were nothing but gracious. Thank you for what you do, and putting up with what it costs you. THANK YOU!

Hugs from Your Crazy Friend Kate of Le monde de fromage de Kate

Brian Dowd said...

As you should already know I would never want anyone to be cruel to another person so I wanted to clear that part up!

I meant ruthless in the sense to never let anyway bother you in doing what you like. You are out to help others and fight cancer so who cares about this handful of people who say things. It maybe hard at times, but they are not you! Stay focused on your goals and ignore the people who are not part of the solution.

Keep your spirits up