The Collateral Damage of Lance’s Confession

As a PR person, I was compelled to watch Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong last Thursday. Enough has already been said about it.

What this confession meant to his charity, Livestrong, continues to unfold as this highly visible organization – which has done so much to provide help to those suffering from cancer and provide a rallying cry against the disease – is left to pick up the pieces.

I watched CEO Doug Ulman, himself a cancer survivor, appear on “Today” Friday morning to talk about his reaction to Lance’s confession.

What a terrible moment for this man who has helped to create a successful foundation in the fight against one of life’s most terrible diseases.

Friday afternoon I received this email from Livestrong:

We at the LIVESTRONG Foundation are disappointed by the news about Lance Armstrong. However, as we express our disappointment, we must also express our deep gratitude for the drive, devotion and spirit Lance brought to serving the entire cancer community.He founded our organization. But LIVESTRONG was never about Lance.

It’s about a woman who needs help preserving her fertility to have a child after treatment… It’s about a survivor who needs access to a clinical trial that could save his life… It’s about an uninsured young adult who needs help finding affordable insurance.

And it’s about you and millions of other people who have come together to fight until no cancer survivor has to confront these challenges alone.

Help us make sure nobody has to go through a cancer diagnosis without the support they need by sharing this message with your family and friends on Facebook.

The LIVESTRONG Foundation has directly helped more than 2.5 million people navigate their cancer journey. Millions more will be counting on us in the weeks and months ahead. We will never let them down.

Thank you so much for your spirited support of our organization and our singularly important mission.

With gratitude,

Doug Ulman
President and CEO, LIVESTRONG Foundation

What a tight rope walk of messaging – Livestrong is left to walk a new path, one that acknowledges its roots with gratitude while trying to forge a new, independent identity.

I’ll leave you to judge Lance’s racing-related behavior for yourself. There is no doubt, however, that he did a good thing in founding Livestrong. The help they provide is real, and so is the psychological boost people receive from wearing their yellow bracelets.

It will be interesting to see how this organization evolves over time.