Thursday, October 7, 2010


I’ve been following Lance Armstrong for years. I knew about him before I developed cancer, as a cycling champion and philanthropist. I looked up to him, mostly for his athletic prowess.

And then I got cancer, and people told me to read his book, It’s Not About the Bike. I read it a year after finishing treatment, and only after I got over my disgust of Lance. Despite his cancer memoir being one of the few that aren’t sappy, he still wrote about his experiences, and that made him a pussy according to my rule. Lance Armstrong: seven-time Tour de France winner, raiser of tens-of-millions of dollars, idol to tens of millions of people, and a huge pussy.

Though the rules that guided my life remained, I exempted Lance and began to study him. I learned how treatment made him a better athlete by trimming fat and transforming his muscles to fast-twitch, how his chemotherapies were immensely more potent than mine, how he thrived on pain, how he tweaked his body and bicycle to attain efficiencies, how he dedicated his life to curing cancer, how he used technology and knowledge to gain an edge.

I noticed how he doesn’t trust people and keeps a tight inner circle, how he can’t stand losing (at anything) as much or more than Jordan or Kobe, how he’s a risk-taking lunatic, how his family background created a ferocious drive in him. Lance was one of the best athletes in the world, from a physiological, as well as competitiveness, standpoint.

Lance is cancer’s poster boy. His organization has raised millions. His goal is to raise billions. He is a god to millions of patients, survivors, athletes, and others. Like past presidents, the rewards of his life and actions may not be seen for many years to come.

Despite his life carrying more value than most others on the planet, our government—or in other words, we, the taxpayers—are paying millions of dollars to attack Lance and put him in jail. I do not know if he is guilty of doping—it seems that every cyclist does. I’m not sure it’s possible to complete that race without some chemical assistance. I do know that Lance will fight his charges to the death, that if anybody could win the Tour seven times without doping it is him, and that, just as Lance was exempt from my “pussy” rule, he is exempt from “justice” even if he is a cheater because a conviction will punish the world as much as Lance.


Two weeks ago, my friend at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told me that Lance Armstrong was visiting young cancer patients on her unit. She asked if there was a message I would like to give him. Of course I would accept this opportunity for one of my heroes to read something I wrote. But I was torn: do I mention the book I wrote in hopes that he’ll want to read it? Lance must despise unsolicited requests more than I hate self-promotion. Do I slobber over him? He probably gets annoyed with constant praise. Or do I try to be witty and make him laugh?

I wrote that he inspired the title of my blog (and original title of my book) and the non-sappy direction of my book, that he inspired me to reach my peak in physical fitness, and that he inspired a mindset in me as I took on cancer. I only half-heartedly thought he would actually receive this message. When my friend later wrote that she personally handed Lance my message, and that he put it in his inside jacket pocket and said “Great!” I was touched. He could have trashed it, but I like to think that I broke his inner circle during the thirty seconds it took him to read it.

My friend also sent me an autographed LIVESTRONG guidebook. I will frame this and hang it on my Wall of Fame with all my other great memorabilia.

Lance’s probable reaction to seeing “I’ve Still Got Both My Nuts”: I’m going to slice this arrogant fuck’s nutsack. It was meant to be playful, Lance, I swear! Is it creepy that imagining Lance thinking of my nutsack makes me giddy? (…Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Lance Armstrong autographs LIVESTRONG Guidebook