Fwd: The News ...Lance (fwd)
kawolff at u.washington.edu
Wed Dec 11 10:55:58 PST 1996
For those interested... a perspective on Lance's condition, his.
>From The World Media, Velocity Homepage:
My Biggest Race
A letter of hope from Lance Armstrong
Midway through ten weeks of chemotherapy treatments,
Lance Armstrong continues to behave as if nothing were
wrong. His positive outlook hasn't shifted since Oct.
8, the day he shocked the cycling world with news of
his testicular cancer, which has since spread to his
abdomen and lungs. Five days earlier he had undergone
surgery for the first time, to remove one testicle. At
the end of the month, doctors removed two malignant
lesions from his brain.
The 25-year-old, one-time World Champion traces his
earliest symptoms to the Tour de France last July.
What he recalls as "abdominal soreness" may have
affected his performance in that race. He was forced
to drop out after six days of riding. Currently
recuperating at his home in Austin, Texas -- and still
riding -- Armstrong contributed the following comments
This has been a crazy two months. Currently I feel
good, real good. It was only two weeks after I
returned home after racing in Europe that I found out
I had cancer. Prior to that, I had no indication that
I had cancer. I was coughing up blood but I thought it
was just dry sinuses. I've always had allergy problems
and a hacking cough. And the testicle? I just thought
it was general soreness. I've always had one testicle
bigger than another, but doctors just don't really
check that. Five years ago I probably already had a
tumor there, and it was probably benign. In the last
year, it became malignant and in the last few months
it became really serious.
It's funny that I didn't react a little sooner, but as
a cyclist I'm used to pain. I was hard-headed as hell
about the pain during Tour de France, but there are so
many aches and pains during the season, you just live
with them until it goes away. This time, it just
didn't go away. Now that we know where the cancer has
spread, the doctors think whatever I did in the summer
was nothing short of a miracle. Based on speculation
about where the cancer was in my body during the
summer months they still can't believe I was racing.
After the first shocker of just knowing I had cancer,
we started working immediately on the problem. But the
news didn't get any better. I didn't understand
everything from day one. I didn't understand how bad I
had it. I was extremely upset, and even with the
prognosis of a high cure rate, I was afraid to die.
That was before we knew about a lot of things, before
we knew about the brain lesions, before the numbers
really had been digested. Had I known what I know now
about my cancer, and knowing that I only have a 50
percent chance, I would have been extremely afraid to
The cancer I have is exactly like me: It's aggressive,
tough, mean and smart, the toughest kind to beat. It
doesn't mean that I'm not willing to fight. You base a
lot of things on initial reaction and, so far, the
initial reaction has been superb. I think my chances
are greater now. I follow the markers [the
intermediate gauges used to monitor the progress of
remission] and I know that those are going way, way
ahead of schedule. Today, I think I know everything. I
think all the surprises are done. They could tell me
tomorrow that it has spread to my bones or something.
That would be worse news, but they don't think that
On recovering from brain surgery - Brain surgery went
well and the results are positive. My vision was
affected for a couple of days because one of the
growths was over the vision part of the brain. After a
couple of days it just sort of fixed itself and it was
really amazing. The body is an awesome piece of work.
At first I was pretty disappointed with my body
because it allowed something like this to enter, but
then you see the power of the body to fix itself, like
with this vision thing or in the way it responds to
I've never approached any of this stuff
pessimistically. When they told me that it had spread
to my brain, most people thought, 'Oh my god!' They
thought it meant that I was going to die. But I
thought, 'Yes I've got it bad, and yes it's in my
brain, but it could be worse.' When my mom and
girlfriend heard the words 'brain cancer' they began
crying, but I thought, 'That's great! They [the
lesions] are small and they are easy to get to. Let's
get them out! It could be a lot worse. What if the
doctors came in and said the lesions are huge, that
they are in places they can't get to. At least they
are giving me a chance. I got a chance and that's all
I recently got a nice letter from Fabio Casartelli's
wife, Annalisa, and I can't help but think about Fabio
a bit. It's hard to put into words. I guess it's about
chance. I have a chance, but when I look back at him I
see that Fabio didn't really have a chance. His was a
terrible accident [during the 1995 Tour de France] and
he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong
Getting through Chemotherapy - Right now the biggest
thing I'm dealing with is just getting through the
chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is exactly what it says.
It's chemical therapy. They are toxic chemicals,
constantly running through the blood, that have a lot
of side effects. You'd never want to do them if you
didn't have to! When I'm in Indiana, I receive a week
of treatment at a time, then I have two weeks to
recuperate. While I'm in the hospital, I do three
different kinds of chemotherapy which take about five
hours a day from Monday through Friday.
I have a catheter in my chest. It's a plastic tube
that hangs out of my chest about a foot that goes into
my heart. They installed it during my first operation
so they don't have to poke me in the vein everyday.
And they do everything from there. They run this
clear, diluted liquid through me. The actual amount of
chemicals is not very much, but it works. One kind is
for an hour and the two others last for two hours. The
other 19 hours I'm hooked up with other I.V. fluids. I
sleep with a big I.V. I walk around with a big I.V.
It's terrible. Oh man, it's just terrible!
It's not painful because they give you lots of pain
killers. The biggest side affect comes from these.
They cause a lot of nausea and vomiting. In recent
years they have done a lot of research in that area
and improved on the pain killers, but that treatment
still really makes you tired. They just knock you out.
For me as an athlete, that is the worst. You know, I
shouldn't even say 'as an athlete,' because when I'm
there, I don't even think of myself as an athlete. I'm
just like everybody else down there getting chemo.
Counting Blessings - I have lost a lot of strength,
though. Two months ago I did the Eddy Merckx time
trial around 50 k's an hour. Today I could probably do
it in . . . 37, 38 k's an hour. It's hard to guess,
but that's what I think. I maybe could do 40, but 40
would be extremely difficult for me. Being an athlete
is secondary right know. Just being a human, and
continuing to be a human is my biggest concern. Number
one, I want to live; number two, I want to race again.
I'm happy just to wake up every morning. I don't care
about how I feel on the bike right now. I'm just happy
to be out on it. Being fit or going fast, that stuff
comes back in time.
I can't help thinking about cycling, however, because
professional cycling is my life. If I find out later
that I won't be able to race again because of the long
term effects of chemotherapy or whatever, I can live
with that, but I'm extremely motivated to race again.
This whole ordeal has really made me miss cycling.
Each and every one of those other guys and even the
guys that I fought with and was competitive against or
didn't have a great relationship with and man, I miss
those guys. I really do. Sure there were days when I
would complain and the food was bad, the hotel was
bad, the weather was bad, the course was bad, but I
would do anything to be there now. I mean, I would do
anything to be sitting in the worst hotel in
two-degree temperatures, eating the worst food, and to
It's funny. I've always complained about the long
season with the Tour of Spain and the Worlds in
September and October, but now, in my situation, it
should work out well for me. Let's assume that
everything goes the way the doctors and I would like.
I'm going to be done on the 13th of December. I'd be
able to start training in early January. That gives me
a lot of time. I'd be starting my pre-season only a
month late. I could even do the Tour de France! I know
that's making some big assumptions. But that's what
I'm planning on.
More information about the Uwracing