Linda Tarason, a colon cancer survivor and volunteer leader for the LiveStrong Foundation, is holding her third dance-themed event to celebrate National LiveStrong Day and honor Tucson's own community of cancer survivors. Dancers Against Cancers will be held on May 18 at 8 a.m., in Trail Dust Town at 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road, and all participants are asked to wear yellow. Tarason encourages those interested to register in advance by calling 440-7206 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think is the importance of having events in partnership with LiveStrong that bring other survivors in Tucson together?
It's extremely important to me. LiveStrong is a fantastic organization that helps everybody, no matter what your income level is, no matter what type of cancer you have. I do events to draw attention to the organization and increase awareness for cancer, because people get kind of blasé. They think, "Oh, that's been taken care of," but it's not, it's getting worse every year. Right now, there's 28 million people worldwide that are living with cancer.
How long have you been involved with LiveStrong?
I've been involved since 2006, but we have leaders — over 200 of us — worldwide.
What's symbolic about using dance to celebrate cancer survival?
When I first came up with the idea, I wanted to do something different because as we know, there's a billion walks and bike rides and runs. The first time it occurred to me was to just get survivors together and do a dance because it's also a celebration of life and recovery. It's joyous, and it gives a message. Then I came up with Dancers Against Cancers, and we had all kinds of people show up for that. That was a flash mob we did at Park Place Mall. Then last year, I had a dance jam, so this year it's a dance walk! That's just my theme, to do something with dance every year. I've said to other LiveStrong leaders when we have assembly that I'd love to have leaders around the world dance on LiveStrong Day do their native dances and have someone go around and film the whole thing.
How many people have participated in past dance events?I've had anywhere from 60 to 100 people. It's for all ages, I've really been trying to get younger people involved, and survivors, supporters, caregivers and people that want to be there because they know how important it is.
This year, you're having a walk and a dance. How will those work in collaboration with each other?
I actually first saw it on YouTube, and a lightbulb went off in my head. I was trying to figure out what I would do this year. You dance as you're walking, and it's in Trail Dust Town, which is this really cute little old Western-type town. It has stagecoaches and little cutouts of cowboys ... It's just a fun place to be able to do it. I have some videographers coming out, and they'll edit it and we'll put it on YouTube.
You've held both spring and fall events for LiveStrong Day. Are there multiple days per year to recognize the organization?
Originally, it was around May 17, which was when the organization was founded. When it was changed to October, that was the day that Lance Armstrong had been diagnosed. Since he's not part of the organization anymore, it changed back to May. It's been kind of confusing, but we're doing it on the 18th because it's a Saturday.
Has it been difficult after the Armstrong controversy to maintain the goal of the organization?
We're as strong as we've always been. In the first three months this year I think we've raised $1 million, and our message this year is, we're strong, and we will help anyone dealing with cancer now.
What is the message you want survivors and their families to walk away with if they participate in Dancers Against Cancers?
The message is survivorship is here. Two, this is a disease that is not going away. This year, more and more children are being diagnosed, and the statistics are that in the next five years one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer (in their lifetime). We can't put in on the backburner, we can't forget it. I want people to do what they can do, and that might be to participate in an event, talk to someone who's going through cancer, give them a kind word, give someone a ride to their chemo appointment if they need it. Just not to forget, to keep remembering we need to keep fighting this.