Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I remember sitting at the Livestrong conference this summer listening to Lance Armstrong relay a story about work going on around LAF's Global Cancer Campaign. At one point, as he sat with Doug Ulman (LAF CEO) during meetings with top doctors & global dignitaries, Doug leaned over to Lance and said- "This is fun." And Lance told the audience that his response was "It's only fun if we win."

Of course this is Lance Armstrong we're talking about- 7 time champ of the Tour de France. From "Winning isn't the only thing, it's everything" (UCLA Bruins coach Russell "Red" Sanders & Vince Lombardi) to "If you ain't first, you're last" (Ricky Bobby), we are a culture obsessed with winners. And as one who is competitive, I've always gone along with the idea that victory is only achieved when you wipe the field with the other team.

But when Lance said that to the Livestrong audience, I remember thinking that judging victory in cancer solely by "winning" maybe worth another look. After all, many cancer survivors, like Dan, don't see the ultimate victory in being cured. There are 100s of cancers, and to ask for a cure sets a high bar, and one that may be unrealistic in our lifetime. This is not a "one-size-fits -all" solution. Many cancer survivors would be ecstatic if their cancer could be managed as a chronic disease- like diabetes or AIDS. Or if genetic testing could even narrow down the treatment options so that they avoid toxic and crippling treatments as a cruel form of trial & error.

The day I heard Lance speak was about 3 weeks after we'd found out the Dan's cancer had spread. I knew that even then, if Dan's "win" could only be fun if he was cured, than we were in trouble. If he passed on from cancer, we would surely say that he "lost his battle". But as many of you've pointed out, Dan's story isn't a straight win/lose scenario. There are more ways to win than just judging the score.

To prove my point, I went to the dictionary and looked up the word "win". Of course, the first definition is "to finish first", closely followed by "to gain victory". Then it gets more to my (our) point here on this blog... here are more definitions of "win"....

1. "To succeed in reaching (a place, condition) by great effort"- such as a "place" like peace, acceptance or enlightenment... a "condition" like compassion or infectious advocacy

2. "To get by effort, competition or conquest"- such as getting through treatments and still living a normal life or making the effort to help others instead of yourself, and ending up with a foundation that will outlast you

3. "To gain (a prize or fame)"- such as having numerous articles written about your work and many friends to share your story which will continue to pay forward

4. "To gain (favor, love, consent) as by qualities or influence"- favor, love & consent gained in all areas of a life by merely staying true to who you are a person (and who you were before cancer)

5. "To gain the support of"- such as delivering speeches and having the audience listen to the message, whether the audience are high school students, corporate executives or cancer survivors

6. "To persuade to marry"- I don't even need to say anything on this one! but quite true :)

So, I guess the story here fits the definition of winning in more ways than one. And I think Mr. Armstrong will agree as well, especially since he is riding this year to spread the cancer awareness on a global level, and that #8 would be gravy.

Babe- Waeger Will Win. You show us the way, and we will make sure we'll continue the movement. And of course, we WILL have FUN above all else.


The Urbans said...

Waeger did WIN by all those definitions and more!

Anonymous said...

Waeger did win no matter how you define it - though Meg helped us out by providing so many examples.



Anonymous said...

If I looked up the word "winner" in the dictionary it would read Dan Waeger.


Anonymous said...

A Winner 100 and 10%. :)

Waeger Will Win,

Kris Lowther said...

Danny won...and we all won, just by knowing him.


Anonymous said...

New bracelet -



Anonymous said...

It's always more fun to be on the winning team! Thanks Dan!!

~Erin Cullison

Anonymous said...

Dear Meg and Dan,
Just wanted to let you guys know we have been thinking about you.
You are both so inspiring to all of us.
Love you both,

Judy and John

Anonymous said...

Notification to WEBSTERS - you need to add Dan's & Meg's picture next to WIN in your dictionary!
Bless you both - Brian G.

Nina said...

Dan Waeger + Meg Rodgers = "WIN"

Anonymous said...

Dan - I think each of us that follow and write on here have known for a while what a truly special person you are, but we are also finding out what a great woman and partner you have by your side. The strength both of you put on display is inspiring to say the least.



Mac & Cheese said...

WDW - Waeger Did Win

I just found out about your blog and spent the past 2 days reading every post from day one... wow... Meg, I am amazed at the amazing partner you have been to Dan! Everyone that knows Dan is and will always be a winner. I'm pretty sure that #6 definition clearly defines you! Keep up all the wonderful and amazing work... and surely you will always be a winner! I would say God bless you both... but it's obvious that God already has.

-Rachael Gamaldi
[classmate of Dan's from Trinity]

Doug said...

I loved the piece today. You have definitely won. And we have all won as well by knowing you.


Anonymous said...

This is amazing. Thank you for sharing it with us. I also like #6 especially: successfully wooing the fair maiden! The gallant young Prince certainly won one of the very fairest in the land!


Anonymous said...

Waeger Will Win, Has Won, and Will Continue Winning Forever


Anonymous said...

What amazing discoveries you have made for yourselves and for us. Exceptional. Thanks.

cousin P

Tim Deegan said...

I remember, the Summit and that comment striking me as well.....



Anonymous said...

Everyone already said it, Waeger has won.



lizzy said...

a perfect post. we all strive to win small victories each day. your words are so true.

Bridget said...

You both are such extraordinary people and have touched so many lives.

You both have won together:)



Cecilia said...

Dan Waeger is the BIGGEST WINNER I know ! I thank God that I have had the opportunity to met with Dan on 3 occassions, I will always wish it were more.
I saw Margaret today and she shared this Blog with me and the latest news. Please know that you have been an inspiration to me from the day we met. I take you with me into every doctor call that I make. My thoughts, prayers and loving wishes are with you, always. much love, Cecilia (Lilly)

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...


I'm a physician and 18-yr survivor of chronic lymphoma. I wrote about this win-lose topic in the July 2007 issue of Oncology Times. Although it is a publication for clinicians, this piece has been circulating among survivors, too. I hope you find it helpful.;jsessionid=J7gWNhBN6pt6LJM1Wnt6yDycl85L35N2vKYbXTpWxhy13SkxFKHw!-1046349743!181195628!8091!-1

With hope, Wendy

Erin said...

We are so fully in agreement with all the ways that you, Dan, and you, Meg, have won. But I want to elaborate on one that Meg mentioned: infectious advocacy. Because, without doubt, your advocacy has been infectious. As someone whose life and whose family has already been directly touched by cancer, and as someone who had the honor and challenge of being the primary care-giver throughout that battle, I already considered myself to be a strong advocate for cancer patients and their families. But, Dan, your leadership, courage, spirit, and hard work, have inspired me to even higher levels of commitment and action. In this way, you have touched not only individuals who were less familiar with the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer, but also those of us who were already a part of the fight. Your relentless advocacy has empowered and emboldened and infected us all.

With much love and comfort to you both, Erin

monster said...

Extremely inspirational and very well said!! Great insight!! It's definitely a WIN!

Anonymous said...

Meg and Dan,

Thank you for the miracle that you are!

With love,
Jennifer Kerrigan

Linda said...

We've all won - because of the two of you!


Your Indy Affiliate

Diane said...

Yes Dan ... we have all won. Our prayers are with you and Meg. Because of your love and support you have taught Scott about keeping up the fight. Scott would love to hear from you. I know you might not feel well right now, but give Scott a shout if you can, even if only on his caringbridge site. He really needs it right now after his scans. You are the one person right now who can keep him going. Remember the Fight Fight ....that you always encouraged him with.

Love to you both,