I never thought of Lance Armstrong as a seven-time Tour De France winner—at least not first and foremost. Even now that his athletic record has been permanently—and justifiably—stained, my predominant thought of Armstrong isn't as a cheater.
The most impactful and important label I placed on Armstrong 16 years ago remains the same today.
He is, and will always be a cancer survivor.
Even if at some point down the line, God sees fit to take him from this earth, and cancer be the earthly cause of his passing, that won't change my mind.
I have personally lost so much to that disease. I've seen three grandparents, an aunt, a mother and a sister leave me because of it.
Those are the numbers, but the void it has left is incalculable.
I'm not alone, unfortunately.
According to the Wiley Online Library, almost 600,000 Americans will die in 2012 from cancer; even more will perish worldwide. With numbers like that, it's great to see someone win.
When your life has been touched in such a way, a fighting spirit goes looking for signs of hope.
Armstrong is such a sign for me.
The fact that he went on to compete as a world class athlete after testicular cancer certainly adds to the impact, but it's bigger than that.
I've never been a fan of Armstrong as an athlete or as a personality. I've never been the biggest cycling fan, and his disposition has always been a little off-putting to me.
After all, this is the guy that ET Magazine quoted as saying: "If there was a God, I'd still have both my nuts." per Cycling News.
I'm certainly not implying that his recent issues are a derivative of his perceived atheist position, but a guy that makes that type of comment isn't going to be my favorite athlete.
For me, the fact that he lives on is his biggest triumph and purpose. Because of that, these other accomplishments and issues are completely secondary.
I understand the scandal is sexier to discuss—and even to write about—but that PED flavored stain doesn't ruin the image of hope any more than our difference in opinion about faith does.
In the Lance Armstrong situation, the truth has seemingly been proven.
Athletically, the outcome isn't pretty, but I will hold fast to that which is good.
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