Resource post for January
He is probably one of the most well-known cancer survivors and athletes of our times. What is even astounding is the fact that his name is known in sporting world of North America and Europe, two continents whose traditional sports events seldom come together. And, in a sport almost destroyed with doping scandals, he came out clean.
I am referring to Lance Armstrong, American cyclist and seven times winner (record!) of Tour de France, considered to be the world’s most demanding and rigorous sports competition. The fact that Lance is a survivor of testicular cancer makes his feat all the more incredible.
Lance is also the founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a not for profit organization whose mission statements is “we unite people to fight cancer believing that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.”
Lance had an aggressive form of testicular cancer: 60% choriocarcinoma, 40% embryonal and less than 1% teratoma which had spread to his brain and lungs, He underwent cancer treatment from October to December 1996 which included two surgeries and several cycles of chemotherapy. Before knowing he would survive the monster, he declared himself a survivor and set up the foundation.
Recently, the foundation joined forces with other advocacy groups American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to pledge their help to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in fighting the rising global incidence of cancer. According to the press release:
“The American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation also issued a 6-point call-to-action outlining steps the incoming US administration can take to ease the global cancer burden.”
- A comeback in the world of cycling. Lance is planning to compete in the Tour de France again this summer as well as in the Giro d’Italia.
“I’m returning to cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden,” said Mr. Armstrong. “While my intention is to train and compete as fiercely as I always have, this time I will gauge victory by how much progress we make against cancer, a disease that will claim 8 million lives this year alone. Our campaign will appeal to every person affected by cancer as well as their nations’ leaders and we intend to visit, race and train in those countries that join our cause. We will reach out to those who suffer in silence and connect them with a community of cancer survivors to give them strength and hope. And we will appeal to world leaders, asking for their help in fighting a disease from which millions die needlessly. United, we can win the fight against cancer.”
Many people are doubtful whether the 37-year-old American has what it takes to capture the yellow jersey for the eighth time. He last won Tour de France in 2005 and hasn’t been competing actively since then. But well, Lance proved them wrong before so why not now?
- A new family member. Yes, Lance is going to be a daddy again. His girlfriend Anna Hansen is expecting.
“Anna and I are thrilled to confirm that we are expecting in June and our families are ecstatic and grateful,” Armstrong said. “We are very much looking forward to what 2009 brings on many fronts. We appreciate respecting our privacy, as we are both eager to celebrate the holidays as a family.”
This will be Lance’s first child with Anna. He has three children in a previous marriage with Kristin Richards. However, that’s just half of this incredible story. You see, after his diagnosis with cancer and before starting chemotherapy treatments, Lance had his sperms frozen. His first three children were conceived through in vitro fertilization. The baby that Anna is carrying, however, has been conceived naturally and is due in June.
The chances of natural reproduction after chemotherapy for testicular cancer are very low. Clearly, Lance Armstrong’s story is an incredible survivorship story that can give hope to other cancer patients. He faced the monster of cancer, he survived, he attained sports fame and glory, fathered children, and gained his fertility. He is truly a man setting his own course against the odds – and wins. And what’s more – he continues to fight cancer, not only for himself, but for others.
The summer of 2009 will prove to interesting and demanding for Lance Armstrong. We’ll be sure to be rooting for him this summer, both in his cycling quest and in fatherhood. I sure will be, from this side of the Atlantic.
Photo credit: Lance Armstrong Foundation, Wikipedia/NIH