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cancer and heros

February 22, 2009

I got to see Lance Armstrong today.
Granted, I’m not sure where he was, but I know he was there.  I saw his whole team go by, and he was with them, so I’m sure I saw him.  So fantastic.  What a hero.
I usually moan when star athletes come back from retirement.  It’s always an embarrassment; why do they do it?  This time, though, I’m a lot more into it.  This come back seems worthwhile.  It’s not because Lance was a star in a sport I actually care about.  It’s not because people who follow the sport say he looks like he’s in top form.  It’s because of why he’s back.
Lance is back because he can raise awareness and money for cancer more by being an athlete than by talking about being an athlete.
Cancer has had so many impacts on my life, and I’m sure I’m not alone.  My mom had a thyroid tumor.  My boyfriend had a brain tumor.  One of my uncles died last year of liver cancer, and another one may have brain cancer. An aunt has been fighting breast cancer, and the former children’s librarian at my elementary school may be dying of bone cancer.  Those are just the biggest impacts cancer has made on my life.  It’s touched dozens of other people I know, and the terrifying thing is that we can’t stop it or control it.  We have no firm idea who it will strike next, and all of us have to live with the idea that some day it might be us.  In fact, some day there’s a good chance it will be us.  Most of us will live to see either ourselves or someone we are really close to diagnosed with cancer.  Most of us will loose someone.
This is a comeback I can get behind.  This is a man who has galvanized the entire American cycling community to work towards curing this disease.  Bob Roll, a commentator for Versus (the channel tha carries cycling in America) told his fans that he’d shave his head if they raised $5000 for cancer research during the Tour of California.  Bob Roll is now a bald man.  Lance did that.  Lance has made the entire community focus on getting something out of their sport.  Sure, international cycling is still ultra competative and constantly struggling wtih doping.  American cycling has those traits, but has a focus on a bigger idea.  We’re going to cure cancer.  We’re going to make having cancer something bearable, something you can get through, without all the puking, shaking, and hair loss.  We’re going to make it so that you don’t get sicker when you start treating your sickness.  We’re going to increase quality of living for every single person who gets diagnosed.  We’re going to do all this by doing what we’d do anyway: riding our bikes and watching other people do it.  We’re just going to pay a bit more now and again for the privilege.
I am so glad Lance cam back.  Palomar Mountain was filled today with people there to see him, people who will buy merchandise and donate money and ride their bikes to cure cancer.  He did that, and he’ll keep doing that, and we all benefit.

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