I’m still not over Lance Armstrong.
I know his dispassionate confession to Oprah is almost history now, but something else keeps needling me.
It wasn’t his admissions to lying and cheating that bothered me so much. It was a casual reference he made that indicated he forgot what he learned from having cancer.
After receiving my cancer diagnosis, a friend gave me a copy of his book, “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.” She said the book inspired her through her breast cancer journey.
With some trepidation, I read it before I started my chemo treatments.
My doctors advised me not to read stories about the experiences of others because of all the horror stories that get told, but I couldn’t help myself. And, every time I read one, I wished I hadn’t.
That’s how I felt about Armstrong’s memoir. I felt compelled to read it, but wished I hadn’t.
His stories scared me because his treatments were so intense and brutal, but I kept reading because I wanted to learn how he got through it, what it taught him, and how it changed him.
He fought cancer the same way he rode a bike up the Col du Tourmalet, the highest road in the French Pyrénées. He did it with ferocious intensity and in his own words, with “a ruthless desire to win.”
I couldn’t help but wonder, did his laser focus on the victory with all his self-proclaimed defiance and arrogance, cause him to skim over the deeply personal, transformative experience of cancer?
While I’m disappointed in Armstrong’s lies, I can’t believe he forgot his cancer lessons.
While cancer robs us of so many things, it also gifts us some intangible, pivotal lessons that if used well can enhance and improve our lives.
Among those gifts are clarity of purpose, dependence on God, humility, gratitude, perspective, greater appreciation for the human body and the fragility of life, self-respect, the supreme importance of relationships based on trust and honor, and many more.
Someone told me my life would forever be divided into two parts — before and after cancer. I balked at that in the beginning, but see the truth of that statement play out more all the time. It’s that profound of an experience.
It’s sad that someone can get through cancer or other crucibles in life without ever really learning from them. But, as flawed human beings, we do. We forget the important stuff all the time.
It’s like working really hard for a certain goal, achieving it, and then forgetting how hard you worked to get there, who helped you along the way, and what it taught you.
Doug recently was telling me about hedonism for some reason, and the theory that we often want something so desperately that we feel we can’t live without it. Then, when we finally get it, it loses its luster and becomes normal, everyday, and overlooked as something special.
When it comes to cancer, however, I hope the lessons I learned are part of my DNA.
We all have life lessons we need to remember. What are yours?
Think about them today and take a minute to honor your experiences and lessons. I promise you’ll be a better person for it.
There are many lessons I need to learn from Lance Armstrong’s mistakes. The most important one is to never forget what matters in life.
As Armstrong listened to his son, Luke, defend him to his friends, he realized, he had to tell his son the truth. He told him to stop defending him because he didn’t deserve it. He had to admit his lies. I never want to have a conversation like that with my children or anybody else.
If we don’t remember the lessons from life’s difficulties, what purpose do they serve but to make us miserable?
Maybe I need to thank Lance Armstrong for admitting that he forgot what cancer taught him because it reminded me to remember.