“Don’t Give Up! Don’t Ever Give Up!” – Jimmy Valvano “Live. Just Live!” – Stuart Scott

“Don’t Give Up! Don’t Ever Give Up!” – Jimmy Valvano “Live. Just Live!” – Stuart Scott

We all need a “pep talk” every now and then! At least I do! Often, when I’m feeling tired or discouraged or demoralized... I think of what I consider to be one of the most inspirational talks of all time. I remember watching Jimmy Valvano accept the Arthur Ashe Award at the ESPYs on February 21st, 1993... a few months after completing treatment for my initial cancer diagnosis. His message and those seven powerful words – “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up!” – would be so very helpful in the years ahead, as I faced multiple recurrences.

It is a timeless message that I found myself returning to recently and that we may all benefit from at this time.

View the Jimmy V acceptance speech here:


Sue Zalewski, one of our many active Survive, Thrive & Be Fit survivor-athletes over the past couple years, recently stated what many of us are feeling when she wrote, “I can’t wait until this is over and I can see my fellow survivors again.” But Sue, like so many others, is not just idly waiting... but is embracing Jimmy V’s motto: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up!” They are finding ways to Survive, Thrive & Be Fit even amidst COVID-19! Check out the photos and comments and see how some cancer patients/survivors are responding to the current situation: www.scccf.org/contests.

Physical movement, activity or exercise (whatever you want to call it) offers powerful benefits for body, mind, heart and spirit... during good times... and especially during challenging times such as these.

As Covert Bailey described, “If exercise were a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed medicine in the world.” But like most medicines... it only works if taken in its prescribed dosage and frequency. In the case of exercise, for the most part that means at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity at least five days a week.

According to the HHHS.gov website:

  • Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
  • Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

I recently received an e-mail from Kathryn Kuhn, who is currently undergoing treatment for recurrent breast cancer. I wrote about Kathryn a few months back. Following her original diagnosis in 2011, Kathryn “tried to stay as healthy and fit as possible. By July 2012,” Kathryn explained, “I was running up to 3-5 miles several times per week. Over the next few years, I completed a couple of half-marathons. In 2016, I signed up with a CrossFit affiliate near my work. At least 3 mornings per week, I started my day by meeting the challenges of those workouts and growing in strength and confidence.”

Since a recurrence of her breast cancer in late 2018 she has been in continuous treatment. She transferred her care to Dr. Bettag in fall of 2019 and, shortly thereafter, she joined the Indoor Row Group and has participated in other ST&BF activities as well. What has Kathryn been up to since we suspended all of our group activities due to COVID-19? She recently explained:

“Since April 1, I’ve walked and/or done yoga workouts EVERY DAY, to the point where my self-competitive brain is once again engaged, and I’m committed to keeping my steps-per-day and total time in motion per day at a higher level. NO BLANK SPACES ON MY SPREADSHEET is my goal this month... After some rough bloodwork, a few weeks ago, things are looking much better. My tumor marker continues to decline, too, back to numbers I haven’t seen since my 8 years of remission. I decided to challenge myself to be even more active even when I feel a little bit “low” during this round of treatment (which I had on Monday). Yesterday, my usual 45min walk route took an hour, but I did it! AND I haven’t had to take any extra anti-nausea meds so far either, so the theory keeps proving true - the active mindset HAS to be helpful...

Stay well!!”

NOTE: When Kathryn refers to “NO BLANK SPACES ON MY SPREADSHEET” she is referring to SCCCF’s ST&BF Active Survivors of Sheboygan Activity Log! 😊

Photo Left (L-R): The Beacon of Hope along with Carrie Green of LIVESTRONG and Kathryn Kuhn at the start of the 2019 Doug Opel’s Run for the Kids on Thanksgiving morning at the Sheboygan YMCA!

Another ST&BF survivor-athlete, Mike Brachman, who is also a member of the ST&BF Indoor Row Group, took it upon himself to purchase a personal indoor rower after our IRG sessions were suspended. Mike becomes the eighth IRG member to enjoy the rowing experience so much as to invest into and purchase their own erg! That says as much about these dedicated survivor-athletes and how much they value exercise as it says about the enjoyment of rowing as an enjoyable form of exercise! And I know Mike will be back rowing with us as soon as we reinstate IRG sessions as he explained, he is Missing the gang!” because, even though he can still row, Mike admits, “Rowing is truly more enjoyable with the group.”

Please know that as soon as it is safe and appropriate, we will reinstate various Survive, Thrive & Be Fit activities! Of course, Social Distancing will most likely be a part of ST&BF activities well into the future but know that WE WILL NOT GIVE UP! WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP!

And... we will continue to support... encourage... and inspire one another! As Jimmy V explained, he was inspired by many, including the great Vince Lombardi. Jimmy V went on to inspire countless others including Stuart Scott as demonstrated by his acceptance speech when, in 2014, Scott was the recipient of the Jimmy V Perseverance Award. In his acceptance speech Scott poignantly stated, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody fight for you.”

View Stuart Scott’s Acceptance Speech HERE:


Whatever challenges you may find yourself facing today... whether it be cancer, COVID-19 or any of an almost unlimited number or combination of challenges, remember what Jimmy says, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up!” and what Stuart says “Live. Just live!”

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