Saturday, January 19, 2013

How Lance Armstrong Let My Mother Down

Earlier this week, when Lance Armstrong admitted that his seemingly miraculous career had been "chemically enhanced," I was a little relieved my mother was not around to hear it.

That may sound callous. Everyone who knew my mother, myself included, misses her very much and would rather she were still here to share in our lives. But I would be lying - not in the epic Lance Armstrong sort of way, but lying just the same - to say I wasn't slightly glad that she was not here to witness the (not super-surprising) revelation of Lance Armstrong's doping scandal.

In one week, my mother will have been dead for eight years.When she died, she passed believing the story of "All-American Athlete" Lance Armstrong who had beaten testicular cancer, returned to his sport, and won seven Tour de France titles.

In the late 90's, Lance Armstrong's cancer spread to his lungs, lymph nodes, abdomen, and brain. My mother's cancer eventually spread to her lungs and brain. Armstrong survived. My mother didn't.

One of my mother's last days in the hospital, a few days before she died, she said, "Remember Lance Armstrong? He had cancer, and he is completely cancer-free now. They could find a cure for me tomorrow too. I am not going to lose hope."

That is why - for today only - a week before the eighth anniversary of my mother's death, I am glad my mother was not here to be disillusioned by Lance Armstrong's admission and that she was able to cling to his survival story, a story that gave her comfort during those last few days of her life.

Am I angry? I don't know.

This morning, I read in the newspaper that the one thing that made Armstrong lose his composure during the Oprah interview was when he described telling his son the truth about the allegations against him. I got sad.

I don't really feel sorry for Armstrong. But maybe I got sad because, not only did he let his son down, he let my mom and all other victims and survivors of cancer down too.

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