Lance Armstrong: Every Second Counts

lance

I have just finished reading Lance Armstrong’s Every Second Counts.  While the book is primarily about his preparation for what would prove to be his second consecutive Tour de France victory in 2000, it is when he writes about confronting the challenge of moving beyond his cancer experience that I was most captivated.

The opening sentence “So, it looks as though I’m going to live-at least for another 50 years or more” resonated powerfully with me.

So, what DO you do with the rest of your life?

“At what point do you let go of not dying?” he asks. Well maybe you don’t and maybe you don’t want to. He speaks of getting “pitched back” into life. “I almost died, and possibly even did die a little, but then I got pitched back into the world of the living”.

“Once you figure you’re going to live, you have to decide how to…You ask yourself: now that I know I’m not going to die, what will I do? What’s the highest and best use of my self?”

For Armstrong, the answer to that question has been to race in the Tour de France, one of the most gruelling sporting events in the world. He says that winning a Tour proves that he is alive. He equates the stamina required to survive the Tour as that required of breast cancer survivors. “The Tour is a daily festival of human suffering, of minor tragedies and comedies…over flats and into headwinds, with plenty of crashes.. The race is very much like living – except that its consequences are less dire and there’s a prize at the end. Life is not so neat”.

I would also say that establishing the Lance Armstrong Foundation is also the wonderful legacy of his cancer experience. We can’t all win marathons, race in the Tour de France or establish foundations, but we can all celebrate life and surviorship and use our experience to  live out the rest of our lives to our own highest potential, whatever that may be .