As a Lance Armstrong fan and bicycle rider, I was extremely disappointed to hear the undeniable reports about Lance’s transgressions. My husband, Jim, a former bicycle shop owner and cancer survivor, has a picture of Lance with his bald chemo-head hanging in his office. Lance inspired him as Jim went through chemo and hoped to live a normal life again. And I wore my Live Strong yellow bracelet in support of Jim, Lance, and all other cancer survivors. What does Lance’s disgrace mean to us and others who were encouraged to “live strong” ?
I think it means very little. That’s because whatever choices Lance made do not take away from the hope, encouragement, and success we and those like us who were inspired by Lance found. Although the inspiration we took from Lance came from the outside, the courage and hope that Jim and all of those like him found came from within themselves. Lance might have been the catalyst, but he wasn’t the source. The source was found in the spirit of each cancer survivor. The optimism people got from watching Lance really came from themselves. So Lance didn’t bring something to people they didn’t have. They couldn’t have found it if it wasn’t already there. He was simply the motivation for them to look within and find their own strength and power.
There’s a lesson here, a lesson that is being repeated all too often these days. That is that all idols have clay feet, that all humans are imperfect beings, and once again, that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. But the silver lining is that the optimism, the faith, the bravery we find when we are inspired come from within us. So yes, it’s terribly disappointing that Lance has been stripped of his titles, but we still have our own stories of survival, courage, and faith that keep us going and that we can pass along to others as we ourselves “live strong.”