I find it interesting to read the reactions from athletes and from the cancer community. I live in both worlds, and I care about the story from both perspectives. But I’m over Lance Armstrong.
Reaction among athletes is somewhat more mixed than I might expect. Most were disappointed or angry at some point, believing that sport should be about the best we can be. But by now, many just accept his doping as fact – who cares if he’s finally admitting? – we’ve all known.
There is also a sad and disturbing strain of athlete chatter that goes something like, “Of course he did. They all do, so therefore we should just allow it.” That cynical view disavows the greatness of human potential. That view says that if we’re not winning and setting records, nothing matters.
And that idea is wrong.
But I live in both worlds. I am also a cancer survivor.
I, like thousands of other cancer survivors, have been inspired by Lance. And disappointed by Lance.
Twelve years ago, my parents came out for my surgery. After I was back home and my prognosis was rather bad, my dad gave me one of Lance’s books. In it, my dad wrote that I, too, could have great things ahead of me, and many mountains to climb. My dad had read the book and been inspired. He became a cycling fan. He believed. I read the book (which I now consider a work of fiction – but fiction can be inspiring) and was inspired, too. My dad believed in Lance. My dad believed in me. And because he believed, I believed that just maybe my dad was right.
So I forged ahead. I didn’t die. Dad was right: there were many mountains in my future. And miles. And countries. I did amazing things that I never thought possible.
And a whole lot of other people believed as well. The Lance Armstrong Foundation changed people’s lives. But what started as his foundation quickly outgrew him. LAF changed to Livestrong, and Livestrong became so much more than Lance. It was community. It was hope. It still is. Lance became irrelevant.
I and thousands of others may have taken some inspiration from him at some point, but we became our own inspiration. We inspired each other. We inspired ourselves. Lance was irrelevant.
We did, and continue to do, extraordinary things. To those cynical people who don’t believe we have potential to be great without drugs, take a look at all of us. We are extraordinary. We climb mountains, we cycle across continents. We challenge ourselves to make the long walk to the mailbox. We struggle to lift a cup to our lips. We relearn to use bodies changed by surgeries and treatments. We take the next step, and the next step, until there are no more steps. We win races. Sometimes we can’t finish – but at least we started.
I will not be watching Lance’s limited confession tonight. He is irrelevant.
I am more interested in the daily struggles and triumphs of the rest of us. I choose to put my belief in all of us. We can all do such extraordinary things. We can all be great in our own ways.
We are extraordinary. I believe.