Santa Barbara surfer, Tom Brown, was given roughly 90 days to live after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer back in 2008. Now, six years later, he is the founder of the non-profit, Surfing for Life Foundation, to help raise awareness, inspire, educate, and empower those touched by cancer within the surf community.
Surfing has been a passion for Brown that he could never let go of, since the age of 12. Now, the cancer survivor wants to give back to the surf community by educating them about being proactive against cancer. Melanoma is the number one cancer surfers have to be cautious of, since they are constantly exposed to the sun.
Brown was inspired by Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong campaign which sells yellow wristbands to support those affected by cancer. Brown used to always wear the Live Strong yellow wristband, especially during his surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. Brown thought, if Lance could do this for the cycling industry, then Brown could do the same for the surf industry. To this day, there are over 22,000 Surfing For Life wristbands that are being worn by surfers in 27 countries and sold in over 220 surf shops.
Cancer treatments can be a large financial burden, so all proceeds accumulated by the Surfing for Life Foundation will be donated to cancer charities such as the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, Boarding 4 Breast Cancer, and many more charities who share the same philosophy as the Surfing For Life Foundation.
Brown’s hope is that every surfer in the world will be wearing a Surfing For Life wristband so that it would remain as a reminder to the surfers to take a few seconds of their time to wear sunscreen before they paddle out. He also wants the wristbands to remind people to get a physical check up because some cancers, such as colon cancer, are silent killers that do not show any symptoms.
In Brown’s case, the odds were not in his favor. Statistics say that for those with stage IV colon cancer, only six percent survive. Brown is one of those six percent patients and is a symbol of hope to many. He is confident that he is still breathing not just by believing in modern medicine but also by being proactive to fight the disease. Medicine is a must, but it is not the only solution.
“Truthfully, I don’t know if we will ever have a cure for it (cancer). I live it as a disease that is going to be maintained,” Brown said.
Tom Brown explains the philosophy of Surfing for Life Foundation is based on 5 steps:
– A positive attitude is everything. Whether you have cancer or not, you have to be positive. Do not surround yourself with negative people. When you wake up in the morning, have something to look forward to that day, and something that you would feel good about when you look at yourself in the mirror.
-Be grateful that we are given this life.
3. Support from family, friends, social networks, etc.
– Brown would not be here today if he didn’t have the support of friends, and families. People he doesn’t even know write to him, tell him their story, and give him encouragement. In tough situations, it is important to go to families and friends even though they have no idea what to do and how to react.
4. Diet and Exercise
– Knowledge is everything. You have to teach yourself what is taking place in your body, and stay active.
Brown said he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for modern medicine.
“If I was to go tomorrow, no regrets. Everything has been good. We (Brown and his wife) had a good life. I am doing something that is paying back to my passion: giving to other people and feeling good about it. I am rewarded. It gives me reason every morning to get out there when I can,” Brown said.
Visit SurfingforLife.com for more information and to support the cause.