Six years ago I read Lance Armstrong’s book, “It’s Not About The Bike”. As a father of four very athletic boys, we were always impressed with Armstrong’s accomplishments. And the story of his fight with cancer was very inspirational. He wrote of meeting kids with cancer, and being inspired by their determination. He said, “If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.”
A couple of things have changed since reading that book six years ago. The most recent change is Armstrong’s fall from grace. He’s guilty of doping to win his races, and admits it.
Another thing changed since I read his book, one much more personal. My son Tyler, 15 years old, was diagnosed with advanced stage IV Lymphoma and Leukemia. In an instant my son was thrown into the horrors of chemotherapy, surgeries, spinal taps, and bone marrow treatments. I confess that, prior to that, I never understood the meaning of the phrase “Fight Like Hell”. But on that day, November 14th, I became introduced to the ugly world of children fighting against cancer…innocence verses evil.
My son’s slogan became “Fight To Win”. Through a year of victories and setbacks, we often repeated our version of Armstrong’s quote, “We will never give up. We will Fight Like Hell. We will Fight to Win!”
Now Lance Armstrong is confessing to Oprah. He lied, cheated, and intimidated to win races,. But he also raised over $500 million for cancer research. So does the money he raised for cancer research offset the doping and lying?
Armstrong committed the sin of winning at all costs, and was rightly stripped of those wins. So here is my question: Was his sin any worse than the sin of doing nothing? Is cheating worse than never fighting? I’m not defending his cheating. I'm saying that if Lance can raise millions for LiveStrong, than I can do the same for childhood cancer. I don't care about his motivations. The only person I control is me. And my options are to either sit on a sofa and judge, or get off my butt and impact the world. Give up, or fight like Hell.
A friend reminded me that I am not a celebrity. he said there are limits to what an average person can do. But is that true? Consider these ‘non-celebrities”.
None of these people are millionaires, actors, or sports heroes. They are just like you and me. They just had the vision and the dedication to see it through.
Can an average person with a passion really change things? It has been suggested that it might be the only way things ever really change.
So as to my response to what Lance Armstrong has done? It is to ask "What have I done?" What impact have I made? Right now, today. I have seen firsthand the horrors of childhood cancer. It is the #1 disease killer of U.S. children, 46 newly diagnosed a day. I know the lack of funding, lack of research. And I know that the only thing that I control is my response to these realities..
I am thankful to everyone who fights for a cure...including Armstrong. And if he can raise $500 million, than so can I. I will never lie down and accept random outcomes. I will call congress and I will sign petitions. I will run, bike, and shave my head for fund raisers. And when I think I have done enough, I will go back to the pediatric cancer floor and witness again the meaning of “Fight Like Hell, Fight To Win.”
These are the things I control, and the only things that matters. And now I need to go. Words without action are meaningless, and I’ve been on this computer too long.