LIVESTRONG Assembly… and more from the Canvas Project

Due to a knee injury, I’m still on hiatus from running, so I thought I’d write a little bit about attending the LIVESTRONG Assembly.

Photo Credit: Kreutz Photography

At the end of March, a group of international and highly motivated LIVESTRONG leaders were lucky enough to attend the LIVESTRONG Assembly in Austin, Texas, to get to know each other, connect with program partners and find out more about LIVESTRONG‘s programs and priorities. For us, it was a wonderful chance to find out how we can make a difference in the fight against cancer in our own communities.

One thing we talked about was advocacy (with an international focus). LIVESTRONG‘s Rebekka Schear told us about the way the foundation defines advocacy (“An organized approach to promoting an issue and motivating others to take action. Advocacy is about changing attitudes, knowledge, practice, policy, systems and services — to benefit people affected by cancer.”). There are two kinds of advocacy, and by sharing my own personal story, I hope some of you will get motivated to do something similar and get active in your own country.

Advocacy- traditional lobbying; targeting decision makers; system change

We worked on getting a law passed regarding the ban of tanning beds for young people under the age of 18. I know quite a number of young adults with skin cancer who used tanning beds. We got together and sent letters and e-mails to politicians and met with some local and regional leaders. In the end, the law got passed, however it’s very complicated to enforce, so now we’re actually working on passing a stricter law, so that e.g. coin operated machines will be prohibited and tanning saloons will need to put up warning signs in all saloons.

  • advocacy- education on issues; empowering people to take action; building awareness, networks, and brand; support and services self or other survivors

We also went to tanning bed saloons and talked about skin cancer awareness, prevention and early detection. I’m going back to school to become a teacher, so I  combined my two passions and went into schools and university to talk to students, teachers and parents… and everyone loved getting a LIVESTRONG band.

Advocacy can mean anything from lobbying for stricter regulations to writing a letter to the editor (depending on your level of commitment and ability/time to work on these issues). But no advocacy effort is too small, so even writing a short note on any social media site can make a difference.

LIVESTRONG – join us (

Right now, we’re working on our Canvas Project. These are just some of the amazing pieces we created (all benefiting LAF). If you’d like to order a tribute canvas (In Honor Of, In Memory Of, I am a survivor), please check out our blog ( or FB page (

If you need an additional incentive to order a tribute canvas (The Canvas Project (benefiting Livestrong)), this might be it: we’ll raffle off a Lance Armstrong signed Newsweek magazine. Everyone who orders a canvas by LIVESTRONG Day (October 2nd, 2012) has a chance of winning 🙂

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My First Ever Half Marathon …

First of all, and most importantly, I would like to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you who supported my Austin Half experience (whether it was via a donation, by supporting me to make it to Austin and have a wonderful weekend, or by virtually cheering me on). It was YOU that kept me motivated and determined enough to finish the Half Marathon. Together we’ve raised an amazing $1722 for LIVESTRONG!! YAY!!!

A special thank you to Jennifer & Brad for your hospitality and to Ginna for getting me to Austin! YOU ROCK!!

When I first told folks I signed up for the Austin Half Marathon, people thought it was a crazy idea. Ha, they probably were right on that assessment. See, I trained for the half for three month only (in a place that is very FLAT), and I ran while Northern Germany was affected by a Siberian cold weather front. Those of you that have been to Austin know that Austin is neither cold, nor flat 😉 In fact, when we made it to the start line, most runners were bundled up in layers of clothing, while I was wearing my Team LIVESTRONG running shirt and capri pants (and layers of sunscreen).

Waiting at the start.

It struck me as funny that everyone from Texas loved the “cool temperatures” – LAF’s president and CEO Doug Ulman mentioned as much after the marathon, then looked at me and went on saying “…well except for you!”. Ha, it was indeed a challenge – much more so than the hills. I was a bit afraid how I’d handle those hills, but I managed to run or at least jog all of them and didn’t walk them (except for a few metres of the last big hill – I just needed to catch my breath on that one, but was surprisingly fine otherwise).

The times I did stop to walk were the water stops and the times people, cheering runners on from the sidelines, were making comments about my yellow tutu. There were quite a few runners who were dressed up in some crazy way,  but somehow wearing a yellow tutu prompted people into yelling crazy comments, inventing crazy chants or even asking to get a photograph with me 😉

One of the most humbling moment of being able to finish a half marathon was seeing other athletes and their determination to conquer their challenges. I jogged past this athlete on one of the hills, and how can you not yell “You’re AMAZING – keep going!” from the top of your lungs?! I’ll never forget crossing the finish line. It was weird, because for the first time since cycling/walking/running for Team LIVESTRONG there was no yellow rose waiting for me at the finish line. However, I did see a familiar face as Liz Kreutz was waiting just past the finish line and took several pictures of the back of my shirt (this is a picture I took prior to the run).

And, I saw my AMAZING Team LIVESTRONG mentor Barb at the LIVESTRONG tent (who believed I could finish the 1/2 when I didn’t… and who got me hooked on #plankaday – ha, just check out her blog and you probably will be, too).Oh, just wait until you read about our plankaday adventure at the LIVESTRONG Assembly ;-))

What’s next?

Well, my hiatus from cycling is about to end (finally), so  signed up for the Philly Challenge in August ( and the Austin Challenge in October (

I’m also very excited about a new “art” project for our young adults with cancer group, called the Germany for LIVESTRONG Canvas Project (find us on FB or check out our blog We create one-of-a-kind tribute canvasses to honor, remember or celebrate people affected by cancer for a $28 donation (plus shipping) to LIVESTRONG. We’re overwhelmed by the reaction of folks who already received their canvas – it is so meaningful for us to work on these, and to see how people treasure them is priceless!!

Just one of the examples of a personalized tribute canvas.

Again, THANK YOU for everyone who supported my running journey – I will keep running (and actually signed up for a few races in Germany) and will keep this blog to share my adventures (on a more regular basis – sorry for the lack of posts over the last couple of months)! Come run with me!!

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Second fundraising shirt (benefiting LIVESTRONG)

LIVESTRONG leaders who’ll be at the Assembly in March only: we’re having a ‘special edition’ for 2012 LS leaders (with “Spreading the message of HOPE & SURVIVORSHIP around the world” + a list of our first names on the back of the shirt) for a donation of $19/each : .

available in yellow, white or light grey; Fruit of the Loom Shirts (S-3XL):

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Leaving footprints of HOPE…

Want to support LIVESTRONG with a donation and receive a custom-made t-shirt? Well here’s your chance… there are two designs (one with a footprint, one without).

These are my fundraising t-shirt for this year’s running events (the design/idea is a co-production of Europe’s Senior LIVESTRONG leaders, with the talented Shu Milne brushing up an idea of mine and creating this fantastic design – thanks a million, Shu!!).

The back says “Leaving yellow footprints of HOPE… in honor of the 28 Million affected by cancer” (the white shirt says: “Leaving footprints of HOPE…” and it has a personalized tribute list on it, so people who donate $25 to my fundraising page ( can e-mail me their list of names (survivors, warriors, co-survivors, caregivers, people who inspire them) and they’ll get their custom made t-shirt.

Shirts are available in white or yellow, Fruit of the Loom Unisex shirts, sizes S-3XL.

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First run of 2012 (rain, headwinds & smiles)

Happy New Year, everyone! Just a reminder: during my training runs I will post pictures of our sights, so you’ll discover Oldenburg from a runner’s perspective. If you think it’s worth a donation to LIVESTRONG or Ärzte ohne Grenzen, I’d be honored. If you’d like me to run for you or someone you know affected by cancer, please leave a comment with the names and I’ll add them to my tribute list.

Today’s 6.39k run in 43:43 was quite challenging (weather: 48F, feels like 40; wind: SSW at 30mph gusting to 40mph; rain). As a student (and someone who tries to make it to the US once or twice a year), it’s just not possible to afford a gym membership, so treadmills are not an alternative for me. But, I won’t complain. First, I’m pretty much an outdoor runner and don’t really like gyms. More importantly, I am just so happy that I’m able to run (with a thyroid & a spine condition) that I couldn’t care less about small challenges like wind or rain ;-). Ha, that’s why I’m smiling pretty much all through the runs, which in turn leads to irritated looks from strangers, but who cares?!

My run led me straight to St. Lamberti Church (the highest building in our city). The Lutheran church was first mentioned in 1237, but in 1790 it was completely transformed into the current rotunda style basilica, based on the Pantheon in Rome. Several construction epochs make it a weird mix of architectural styles. Today, regular church services are still being held, but it’s also a place where concerts and other events take place.

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New Year’s Eve 3.28k recovery run

This is a mural in our neighborhood – I’ve never seen anyone stop and really look at it, which is too bad. For me it’s just one example of finding ordinary sparkling moments in our everyday lives… and no one said you can’t have a little fun while running in the rain on NYE! Come Run With Me (I dare you)!! Thanks for the recent donations, Steve, Markus & Jeanette… there’s lots more to see 🙂

— 1month, 18 days, 18 hours, 52 minutes to go. Game on, cancer!!


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Spreading a little Christmas cheer…

Want to give cancer a swift kick in the face and discover my city via my December runs? For every donation of at least $5 to my LIVESTRONG fundraising page (, I will post/e-mail you a picture of me wearing a Santa hat in front of one of the many sights our city has to offer.

Spread a little Christmas cheer, see our city from a runner’s perspective, smile at and with me looking a bit goofy and support LIVESTRONG‘s work of inspiring + empowering people affected by cancer and fighting the stigma of cancer through global initiatives.

Thank you so much for considering a small donation. I know it’s that time of year when a lot of people are asking for donations, so I appreciate your interest in supporting this rookie runner!! As a small THANK YOU, I will send a Christmas card from Germany to everyone who donates (if you provide me with your address ;-))!

2m, 3d , 15h, 56 m to go. Game on, cancer!

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