BY FAIZAL KHAMISA – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
When Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France in 1999, I was 11 years old. At the time cycling wasn’t a sport I followed. That changed after the win, simply because of what Lance Armstrong had overcome. Even at a young age, I admired his desire. Who didn’t? He became an athlete I followed through my growth. As I grew the aura of Lance Armstrong grew. As he grew, the sport of cycling grew. By the time I was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2005, Livestrong was a known brand and Armstrong was aiming for one more Tour win.
I received my first Livestrong band just days after being diagnosed. A friend who had visited me in the hospital left it as a gift. In my eyes at the time, it was the best gift to receive. I put on the band and felt a force of invincibility. While my message from the beginning of my diagnosis was that I could conquer this, the yellow band on my wrist validated what I was saying. Lance Armstrong beat cancer and he won multiple Tour de France titles. All of which as of today have been stripped from him. If he can reach the top of his sport after the rigors of cancer, surely I can reach the top of whatever it is I wish to do. At the time it was simply surviving the disease.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published on October 22, 2012. With the news that Lance Armstrong is reportedly planning on admitting to Oprah Winfrey that he cheated his way to seven Tour de France titles, Faizal’s piece is worth another look.
I did survive, despite setbacks. Lance Armstrong remained my motivation and inspiration through the duration of my prognosis. I was young at the time, perhaps ignorant to the realities of what it was Armstrong was doing. My own naivety led me to shake off what I heard, I didn’t want to believe Armstrong was doping.
I’m older now. Hardly wiser, but certainly more aware. Lance Armstrong’s motives were to raise awareness for the battle against cancer. He was the perfect figurehead at the time because of what he achieved after the illness. But it wasn’t real. The superhero element of Armstrong is lost because of how he achieved his in-sport greatness and used that as validation to raise money for cancer. I am never discrediting what he overcame in life. Never. I know how difficult it is to get back on your feet after something as daunting as cancer. I literally couldn’t get back on mine because of hip surgeries as a result of chemotherapy and steroid treatment. Armstrong got on his feet, climbed on a bike and rode his way into our hearts. He rode his way to the bank as well, thanks to 10 corporate sponsors. As of today, all those sponsors have cut ties with the embattled Armstrong.
It’s time for me to do so as well.
I don’t need a yellow band to validate my story. Not anymore at least. Not from someone who cannot validate his. I will continue to inspire others through words, actions and hopefully successes. I will continue to give money towards to fight, hoping that one day I don’t need to anymore. Cancer survivors, like myself, used to look at Armstrong as a force larger than life.
It’s difficult to look at him period anymore. With my bracelet no more, I plan to go through the course of my days exactly how I used to live.