The father of two is battling brain cancer, a fight he waged while continuing to coach his daughter as a volunteer assistant with the Bishop McGuinness High School softball team. His story was chronicled in The Oklahoman in Sept. 2011.
“I wore my yellow bracelet because, to me, it was fighting back against cancer.
“Armstrong is a cancer survivor who played to win. That is my goal. I treat this as a competition, and I am playing to win. To me, the yellow bracelet was a way to remember that I am playing to win and that I was not the first one to play to win.
“Do I look at them differently? No. I look at Lance Armstrong's victories in the Tour differently, but his victory over cancer is undeniable.
“Today, I own three Livestrong shirts and I will wear them tomorrow with pride. To me, they are not about the cheating while racing but rather the belief that the fight against cancer is hard and difficult, but it is a fight that can be won.
“I really like the idea of the bracelets (that have been made with Allen's name on them), but I believe they can mean something different to everyone. I have had people tell me that every time they see their blue “Smile: It MATTers” bracelet, they think of me. I have always tried to stay positive through this adventure and I am fighting hard to win. My hope is my blue bracelets inspire others to stay positive and play to win.
“I have Stage 4 terminal brain cancer. I am playing to win. I will play hard and have fun.”
Her husband, Matt, who was a volunteer assistant softball coach at McGuinness, is battling brain cancer.
“When Matt was first diagnosed, we received a book from the Livestrong Foundation about how to organize information from doctors and deal with cancer in our lives. I think it was important for us, and especially for Matt as an athlete, to be able to look at someone like Lance and think that he had beaten cancer — so could we.
“It makes me a little sad now to think about Matt after his second brain surgery — the steroids to keep his brain swelling under control keeping him up at odd hours — riding his stationary bike in front of the TV watching the Tour de France in the wee hours of the morning. Lance wasn't in that one, but his inspiration was still there.
“I think that both Matt and I desperately wanted to believe that somehow Lance was innocent.
“I have worked really hard to separate Lance Armstrong from the Livestrong Foundation. Livestrong has done untold good in raising money for cancer research, providing excellent information on their website and encouraging those affected by cancer. I am grateful to those who work for the foundation. I pray that they are able to continue their work.”
She oversees the Coaches vs. Cancer program at Oklahoma State, which pairs young cancer patients with Cowboy and Cowgirl athletes among other things.
“I do have numerous wristbands from our CvC kiddos. I know the Livestrong bracelets were the inspiration (for those bracelets), but I stopped making that connection long ago.
“When I look at my wrist, I don't see a band. I see a face. I think of that particular child and recall a memory or say a prayer. It's a reminder that someone I love is facing a tough battle and whatever I face in my day is so insignificant compared to what they are going through.
“It's a way for me to show my support. I may not be able to cure cancer or make a difference in the life of the family, but it's a way to be connected, even in such a small way.
“If people ask me about the wristband, I tell them what I can about that child. It's one more person that may say a prayer or tell someone else. I love having those wristbands because it means I carry a piece of that child with me when they are going through a dark time. And when someone you love is fighting cancer, sometimes that's all you can do.”