So maybe some of you have heard, but Lance Armstrong has been in the news alot lately. I have alot of friends ask what I think of all the doping allegations, the USADA’s report, and all the other professional cyclist that have come forward and testified against him.
IT DOES NOT MATTER.
I was diagnosed with Cancer (Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) on June 6, 2003. I had a mediastinal mass in my chest just above my lungs that was encroaching on my heart. The mass was 9 x 5 inches in size. The oncologist had said that if we had caught this any later I would have died. My wife and I fought this disease for 6 long months and we beat it.
That summer my brother-in-law convinced me to buy a bike and we started to ride together. Now I used to ride alot when I was a teenager (Palmyra-Victor, Palmyra-Newark, Palmyra-Clifton Springs, Palmyra-Shortsville .. you get the idea). On the bike I felt free and invincible. Or so we thought.
10 months later I relapsed. I was told there was no evidence of the Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, but a couple biopsies showed I now had Hodgkins Lymphoma.
This started another battery of tests. Every couple of weeks I would stay the weekend at the hospital while a new combination of chemotherapy (ABVD, ICE) was tried to see if the Cancer would respond to it. The Cancer was not responding to any of the chemotherapy. That is when my oncologist said that our only choice was to try an Auto-Stem Cell Transplant.
On December 24, 2004 I went into the hospital for the Auto-Stem Cell Transplant. I asked my oncologist what my chances were at this point. He said you have a 30% chance of getting through this treatment and going home. I started the BEAM chemotherapy treatment that day. It would last 4 hours everyday for 5 days. It was on the 3rd day of the treatment that I was lying in bed wondering how I am going to get through this when I saw this commercial come on. I saw Lance Armstrong and he was some sort of cyclist and he was talking about something called the Ride for the Roses in Austin, Texas. I felt this instant connection. I felt hope for the first time. I kept thinking this guy had cancer, beat it and is now a professional cyclist. If he beat it then so can I and I am going to make it to the Ride for the Roses and ride 100 miles.
That day I started training for this Ride for the Roses. The transplant ward was on the 8th floor. I would walk up and down those 8 floors of stairs twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. I spent 19 days in the hospital and as soon as I got home I put my bike on a trainer and started riding.
I raised $10,490 that year for the LiveStrong Foundation at the 2005 Ride for the Roses and earned the Green Jersey. I was only 10 months out from an Auto Stem Cell Transplant and was able to ride 75 miles. It was one my greatest athletic achievements.
My point in all this is this. My feelings for Lance Armstrong have never been about his bike or the races he won or lost. The bike was just the object that sparked the connection I felt I have with him.
New Year’s Eve 2012 will mark 8 years in remission for me. I have an amazing wife and even more amazing 4 year old twins (Jamie, & Luke). Something I thought back in 2003 when all of this started would never happen.
Lance in my darkest hour you gave me what I needed most:
Nothing the USADA, UCI, other professional cyclists, other amateur cyclists, or the news will ever be able to take that away from me.