I WANT TO DIE AT A HUNDRED YEARS OLD WITH an American flag on my back and the star of Texas on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at 75 miles per hour. I want to cross one last finish line as my stud wife and my ten children applaud, and then I want to lie down in a field of those famous French sunflowers and gracefully expire, the perfect contradiction to my once-anticipated poignant early demise.
These are the lines taken directly from Lance Armstrong’s biography – “It’s not about the bike”.
Lance Armstrong is famous for his courage. The professional cyclist fought off a life-threatening disease and graced the front page of many newspaper sports sections. He hasn’t merely returned from an illness to win the Tour de France; he fought off cancer to become one of the best athletes ever.
There is no one else quite like him. And there probably never will be. The best cyclist ever, Lance Armstrong won the sport’s premier event, the Tour de France, an almost incomprehensible seven times from 1999 to 2005. But before he could do that, in 1996 he had to beat back a cancer that was supposed to take his life. Testicular cancer had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain. Grim-faced doctors told him he had no chance. But no chance were not words that had meaning for Lance.
He spearheaded the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which made a yellow plastic loop a statement of resistance and strength across the entire planet. Like Lance himself, his foundation looks for the next horizon. It advocates for those living with cancer, funds research, inspires the cancer community to support each other and is collectively stronger than any one of us could be alone. Maybe team cycling taught him this, or maybe Lance, 36, is what you see.
Lance took a minor sport in America and turned it into a great national passion and a great national pride. And he did it by struggling for years, alone on a bike often in unforgiving weather, over terrain that most of us would view as hostile, when no one was watching, no one was cheering.
He inspired all of us who face a cancer diagnosis to search out the doctors who believe that we can live, to hold on to those friends and family who stand beside our bed—and then to fight to prove the faith of those friends and the beliefs of those doctors well founded. After Lance, no one of us could ever again say it was too hard, the odds stacked against us were too high, the fight already lost. The fight I fight is for me and my family, but the power to fight belongs in good measure to Lance.
Lance Armstrong’s books:
- Lance’s Home Page
- Wikipedia Article
- Lance Armstrong Foundation: Home
- A special report by National Geographic team on Lance – The Science of Lance Armstrong: Born, and Built, to Win
- Ask Men article
- Lance’s Autobiography It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life