Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands today.  Two out of three kids are sick.  So that meant some time at home for me.  Both kids are taking a little nap right now, probably the best medicine for an ear infection.  Since they have each chosen a sofa to sleep on, I can excuse myself from vacuuming - don't want to wake a sleeping child.  Watching the two of them, I think of this photo:

I miss those days.  A lot.

But I digress.  So before I start crying and wondering where the time has gone, let me return to the topic I intended to address.

Lance Armstrong.

Unless you have been living under a rock, there shouldn't be any reason for me to recap.  It has been all over the news, the internet, Facebook.  But, what hasn't been anywhere, and what I have been wondering, and what I have to imagine has crossed others minds is:  Did he ever really have cancer?  And if he in fact did, is it possible it was never as bad as he claimed it was?

Stage 4.  Unless you are talking about the Tour de France, the very term can evoke fear and terror.

That's what stage we were told Lance Armstrong was in.  His testicular cancer spread to his brain and lungs.  Stage 4 survival rates are very low, although higher for some types of cancers than others.

And yet, within a year, Lance Armstrong was in remission and racing again.  He goes on to win the Tour de France 2 years after returning to the sport.   Amazing and inspiring to so many people, particularly those dealing with their own cancer diagnosis.

Now, as we find out more and more about the case, the years of lies and denials, about doctors who back dated prescriptions and fudged reports, about officials who drop allegations after large donations were made, about bullying team mates, managers and doctors, am I really the only person who wonders?  Could this all have been faked, or the extent of his cancer exaggerated?

Faking cancer isn't rare.  I googled it before starting this post and was amazed at the number of known cases that popped up.  In almost every instance, money was the motivator.  People pretended they had cancer, or their child had cancer for financial gain.

Clearly, Lance Armstrong had a lot of financial gain.  He was a relatively unknown athlete before his cancer diagnosis.  Much of his fame is due to the storyline of "biker beats cancer, wins races."  Sure he would have gained some fame winning the Tour de France, but lets be real, how many other famous bicyclists are there in the US?  Can you name even 1?  Probably not.

After beating cancer, returning to his sport and winning, Lance Armstrong rose to heroic heights.  He starts a foundation, he writes a book, everyone knows his name.  Before long, he is earning $20 million a year in prizes and endorsements.


But what do I know?

I do know that if everything is as it seems, that perhaps some of the research money needs to go towards determining if blood doping is a cure for cancer.  Imagine if after all this hullabaloo it is discovered that a cocktail of EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions is the cure for cancer.

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled upon this page from the Lost Eye website. What you posit is very interesting, but I'm not sure I share the skepticism. I do think Lance Armstrong had cancer and that his cancer was advanced. He had some renowned doctors who have gone on the record, and I doubt they would risk their reputations, and possibly their professional organization memberships, by lying so extensively. Although doctors are not allowed to reveal your diagnosis without your permission, a patient also can't force a doctor to lie to the media, and I don't think his doctors would have.

    The frustrating thing is that there are many types of cancer, and "stage 4" has vastly different implications for different cancers. Armstrong had mixed nonseminoma testicular cancer, and the stage 4 survival rate is 50%. In contrast, stage ONE exocrine pancreatic cancer, the type Patrick Swayze had, has a five year survival rate of 12%. The stage 4 survival rate for that type is less than 1%.

    I'm not downplaying the gravity of stage 4 testicular cancer. The survival statistic doesn't make it any less scary for patients. I can't imagine being a young man--it usually strikes younger men--and being told that your chance of dying is equal to the chance of flipping heads on a coin. Nor am I accusing Lance Armstrong of exaggerating--he never claimed his chances were less than 50%, as far as I know.

    I am, however, disappointed that the media did not, and still hasn't, explained that his stage 4 cancer experience cannot be extrapolated to other types of cancers.

    By the way, your prosthetic eye looks amazing! I saw your picture on Lost Eye and didn't know which eye it is until looking at your blog post that showed you without the eye.