The Cancer Card

The lies, the cheating, the doping….eventually it had to get around to the cancer, right?

I’m talking about Lance Armstrong.

We’ve all been reading the headlines and some of us have watched Oprah and listened to her question the athlete everyone thought was super human until he became just another man who cheated and took us all for a ride. 

I’m not here to give an opinion, but I can tell you this, with my sports background and watching the likes of Marion Jones, Ben Johnson and too many major league baseball icons to mention.  Lance Armstrong is one more athlete who belongs on “sports cheaters island”; a place I made-up a long time ago when it became very clear, short cuts to success in sports were more attractive than natural ability and good hard work. 

But what about Lance and Livestrong?  What about the cancer card he played in all of this?  Was that real?  Or was that just one more angle to this false front he parlayed into a multimillion dollar lie? 

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta believed in Lance and Livestrong.  He joined the crusade because his mom  had cancer.  He sat on the board of directors of Livestrong.  He’s taken a leave from that chair because his network is one of many, knee deep in investigating the Armstrong story.  Gupta says “I thought Livestrong could fill the gaps.”

Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin writes in the “Point After” page in this weeks SI about a guy named Jim who is able to put Armstrong’s lies aside because of what he’s done to inspire cancer patients.  Jim is quoted in the article saying “The good that Armstrong  has done for cancer research and cancer patients far outweighs anything he did in enhancing his performance.”   It’s made clear in the article that Jim was inspired to push back on his own cancer diagnosis after reading Armstrong’s two books.  Jim’s multiple myeloma is now in remission.  I guess he made a difference to this cancer patient. 

By the way, Rushin reveals at the end of the article,  Jim is his brother.   His closing lines reflect the heart of a caring brother.  “But I will always be grateful for Armstrong’s existence.  Why? Because it has undeniably helped by brother Jim, who’s more important to me than any childish illusions.”

But I bet he’s taken off that yellow rubber bracelet that once stood for so many things.




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