The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 16, 2013

No quandary in this corner

Editor and Publisher
John H. Walker

TARBORO — As my wife and I watched the news Monday night, there was the ever present piece on Lance Armstrong and how he had cheated.

On Monday, the story was all about his confession to Oprah Winfrey and his apology to the Livestrong board and family.

As a cancer survivor, I guess I’m more like ESPN host Stuart Scott, who has resumed his battle with cancer and said Lance Armstrong owed him no apology.

Scott went on to say via Twitter, “I’m 1 of millions of survivors he’s helped.” He signed it “#grateful.”

Back in 1994, as Armstrong was battling the cycling world in the 91st Tour de France, I was in a battle with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma.

Despite having never smoked, I found myself with a cancer at the right base of my tongue that eventually metasticized to a lymph node below my right ear.

Every night, as I got my feeding pump ready to load, I watched Armstrong ride.

I watched him mountain after mountain and curve after curve and, like millions of others fighting cancer, I knew that if he could beat cancer and beat the mountains, I could beat my cancer.

There weren’t many mountains in Davidson County — still aren’t — but I knew if I could develop some toughness of my own while drawing strength from Armstrong, I could beat the mountains that cancer had placed in my way.

There were nights when I was so tired that it actually wore me out to sit there and watch that race. I understand that makes no sense to someone who’s not walked that walk, but there really were times when fatigue would overtake you — and all you had done was sit.

•     •     •

Last week, I had no problem with those former baseball players who had tainted the game through the use of steroids being denied admission into the Hall of Fame.

Am I good with Amstrong’s explanation that he simply levelled the playing field in a sport rife with doping? No, but what do we do?

As children, we’re told that two wrongs don’t make a right and keeping that in mind, is Armstrong’s levelling of the playing field explanation just an effort to rationalize why he cheated?

So, if I know cheating’s not right, how come I can sit here and not discount Armstrong’s victories?

The baseball players bulked up, but Armstrong didn’t ... and a bicycle can only go so fast ... and in the end ... after all those races ... all of those riders still in contention at the finish watched him win from behind.

And perhaps it’s because I felt Lance Armstrong beside me, night after night as I climbed cancer’s mountains and raced through its valleys chasing my yellow jersey that would eventually come with a clean PET scan.

For those of us he helped and for the $500 million he helped raise to fight cancer, the governing bodies can take every title he ever won and put them where the sun doesn’t shine because the world is a better place because of Lance Armstrong, whether or not he cheated.

Ride on.