As the media continues to debate about whether Lance Armstrong deserves his titles, I would like to present a different view and share with you a story about courage, honesty and hope. This is the story of day I met Lance.

 

Its 2006 and it’s my third session of chemo at RPA. After an unexpected diagnosis of lymphatic cancer and being told that my chances of survival were terrible, I was depressed, and have been for the past month. I wasn’t sleeping, and I took a combination of strong and high dose pills to get me through the days and the nights but I was only getting 2 to 3 hours sleep at best.

 

I can recall that just one month before on this Friday, I was out enjoying lunch with a client. Now my Fridays are filled with chemo sessions, hospital visits, and being away from reality. Thinking that this would be the first part of a 3 stage process over the next 2 years was incredibly draining. The odds that the cancer could even be eradicated from my immune system was extremely slim.

 

As I look around the room I feel like I don’t belong here. These people are different. They are older, they are weaker, they are thin and lifeless. There are some younger women wore wigs and scarfs to cover unmistakably chemo ravaged faces and frail bodies. You just never expect it’s going to happen to you. At age 37, I had to learn that my expiry date on the planet was looming.

 

I get up from the blue leather chemo chair and walk across to a library shelf that had books and brochures provided by the cancer ward. One of the books is written by Lance Armstrong, named ‘Every Second Counts’. Standing up by the book shelf I read it for 10 mins. I discover this person’s incredibly courageous journey of how he won the Tour de France just 18 months after battling cancer. His odds against cancer were also poor, and yet he not only survived, he achieved something ordinary people would only dream of. This gave me hope as I sat back down for the remainder of my chemo session which runs for 5 hours each time. That night I slept better.

 

Over the next few chemo sessions I continue to read his story. Soon enough, his story begins to change my story. And as I change my story in my head I begin to change my truths and my agreement with reality.

 

There is hope. I have a case study. I shifted from being a victim, to being hopeful. I changed the content of my thoughts and I began to look at my own journey with a new set of eyes. I started to believe that whilst this time in my life is bad, it will pass and one day and life will be good again. And it happened.

 

Today my life is amazing. It’s been one year since my remission and I’ve been given the all-clear. I wake up every day feeling grateful just to be alive. I am filled with love, new found energy, and I no longer sweat the small stuff. My life will never be the same as it was before cancer.

 

You never know, what conversation, what person, what book will talk to you and speak to your heart, so you stay open to everything. The hand that opens a book is never the same hand that puts it down.

 

So when I hear the stories of Lance being blasted by media, I think to myself, what really matters is that this was a man who remained true to himself. He fought a courageous battle against cancer, and against all odds survived. At the end of the day, a title and a piece of metal is not going to change his story. People can say what they like, but you and only you know the truth.

 

So Lance, thank you so much for sitting with me at chemo because whilst everyone was talking about the steroids and how they would get by, you gave me something that no chemo drug could ever give. You gave me hope, you changed my story, and in doing so, you change my life.

 

Thank you,

Tom Panos