For cancer survivors, Lance Armstrong will always be a champion

FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2012    LAST UPDATED: SATURDAY AUGUST 25, 2012, 1:04 AM
STAFF WRITERS
THE RECORD

For cancer survivors, the Lance Armstrong story this week wasn’t about the doping, just as the champion cyclist’s autobiography was “not about the bike.” It was about his message that cancer was not a death sentence.

The “Livestrong” bracelets raised nearly $500 million since his Lance Armstrong Foundation was started in 1997.

STEVE HOCKSTEIN/FOR THE RECORD
The “Livestrong” bracelets raised nearly $500 million since his Lance Armstrong Foundation was started in 1997.

That message — and the way Armstrong transformed the world’s view of life after cancer — will endure even though he has been stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life, they said.

“He created a movement that galvanized people,” said Virgil Simons, a formerHackensack resident who is the founder and president of The Prostate Net, an advocacy and education group for prostate cancer patients. “Survivors don’t have to hide cancer in the closet anymore.”

Armstrong delivered that message through personal example as he rode to victory seven times in the Tour de France. He helped others diagnosed with cancer navigate their treatment choices and return to active lives through the nearly $500 million his foundation raised for services and research.

And his group’s yellow wristbands, ubiquitous and instantly recognizable, inspired not only those diagnosed with cancer, but those enduring hard times of any sort to “Live Strong.”

“Whatever this is with cycling, it doesn’t in any way diminish what he’s done for cancer,” said Karen Szigety of Ridgewood on Friday afternoon. Her son Jack was diagnosed at age 10 with Hodgkin’s disease. “I’ve worn a band since Jack got sick, and I’ve never taken it off.” Now six years cancer-free, Jack started his freshman year at the University of Notre Dame this month.

Armstrong established his foundation, now known as LiveStrong, in 1997, a year after he was diagnosed at 25 with testicular cancer that had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain. It seemed incurable, he recounted in his book, “It’s Not About the Bike.” But three years later, he won cycling’s most grueling race — and inspired cancer survivors everywhere.

That gift of hope in their darkest hours cannot be undone by the actions of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, cancer survivors said. They read his autobiography. They posted photos of him in their hospital rooms. They cheered for him as they watched each race on television.

“For him to come back and do what he did, it just gives people so much hope,” said Sam Cho, 27, who competed in this month’s Ironman U.S. Championship in New York and New Jersey — eight years after facing the same form of cancer that Armstrong had, and beating it. Interviewed before the competition, he said it was “a shame what [Armstrong] is going through with the doping scandal. But LiveStrong is so much bigger than just him.”

Other local cyclists, however, were disappointed to see the achievements of such a role model tainted. While cancer survivors focused on Armstrong’s success after cancer, other cyclists acknowledged their focus was on his reputation as an athlete.

“We would all like to believe he did it fair and square,” said Ethan Brook, president of the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, which has grown from 900 members to 1,500 in the last two years. “I feel terrible,” he said, “but even at this point, there’s a lot of skepticism out there.”

“We all think we’re Lance Armstrong,” said the Cliffside Park resident, who had just returned from a long ride on Friday afternoon.

There’s always a “glimmer of hope,” said Allan Albert, who works at Westwood Cycle, owned by his family since the 1960s, that “some people [will be] honest and truthful and have the ability to be champions … without the use of any performance-enhancing products.” But after this, he said, he’ll “reevaluate the way I look at some sports or their [athletes’] accomplishments.”

“It’s sad,” said Rob Rybacki, who owns Pedal Sports in Oakland. “You’ve got to put an asterisk next to his name.”

He’d like to think Armstrong is not guilty, he said, but the potential testimony of 10 eyewitnesses who were expected to say they had seen Armstrong using banned blood transfusions, a blood booster and testosterone made him conclude Armstrong was guilty.

Yet they recognized that his accomplishments exceeded any races he won. “He basically put cycling on the map in this country,” said Rybacki.

And he motivated people to change their lifestyles, Albert said. “I had people who came in — cancer survivors as well — and they decided it was time to get healthy again,” Albert said.

Armstrong personified a cultural shift in attitudes toward cancer.

He “empowered advocates and patients to get better informed, to be able to control their lives, to reach out and create dialogue with their doctors and understand the importance of research,” said Simons.

A rainbow of wristbands followed his yellow one: purple for pancreatic cancer, teal for ovarian, red for heart disease or AIDS.

His foundation’s races — including one in Philadelphia last weekend — not only raised money for research into cancer-prevention and survivor issues, but galvanized survivors to get active. For those who found the competition daunting, the foundation also sponsored YMCA programs in 25 states, including New Jersey, to help bridge the period from cancer treatment to an active “new normal.”

In his statement abandoning the fight against the doping allegations, Armstrong said he would commit himself “to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer.” The American Cancer Society, in a statement of support, said the foundation’s work was “sorely needed.”

Email: washburn@northjersey.com and robertsj@northjersey.com

A new Venge for a happy customer

venge2

Frank S’s brand new 2013 Custom Venge Pro with full Campy Record 11 Speed

Sale!

SizeModelYearSale PriceOriginal Price

Fuji Road Bikes
Size Model Year Sale Price Original Price
54/56 SST 3.0 ’11 2100 2375
M D6 3.0 ’11 2800 3400
56 SST 2.0 ’11 3200 3900
56 SLI Comp ’11 2050 2600
50 Supreme 2.0 ’11 1950 2400
Kestrel 3000 Pro SL ’11 4100 5000
Specialized Bikes
Size Model Year Sale Price Original Price
58/54 Roubaix Elite ’11 1830 2100
56 Tarmac Elite ’11 1850 2100
56 Tarmac Expert ’12 3350 3700
48 Dolce Elite ’12 1270 1320

SizeModelYearSale PriceOriginal Price

Fuji ATB Bikes
17,19 Nevada 2.0 ’12 680 780
Specialized ATB Bikes
17 Myka ’11 360 440
19 Rockhopper Comp ’11 740 880
17 Rockhopper Comp 29 ’11 1140 1300
S Big Hit FSR1 ’09 1730 2000

Aaron Essner – GMSR

 

When not drafting 18 wheeler trucks at nearly 40mph on “friendly” shop rides, Pedal Sports sponsored rider Aaron Essner races his bike. This picture shows Aaron racing the recently held Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont.

Dan Lenc – Supa Star

The shop would like to congratulate Pedal Sports supported triathlete Dan Lenc for his outstanding result in the Greenwood Lake Triathlon. Dan was 13th overall, 2nd in his 35-39 age group and had the 5th fastest bike split! On a Specialized Transition Pro of course! Way to go Dan!

Congrats Bruce Carbone Mt Washington Hillclimb finisher!

Congrats to Pedal Sports supported Triathlete Claudia Kretchman for her superb results in the Long Branch Triathlon on Sunday 8/18.
2nd overall female. 7th overall. Fastest bike split among the women, 5th fastest among the men. On her Specialized Transition Pro of course! This one week after finishing 5th in her age group at Ironman NY. Way to go Claud.

We have weekly rides

Check out our rides by clicking on the “Rides” tab above or click right here.

Congratulations!!

Michael Stabile

The shop would like to congratulate sponsored triathlete Michael Stabile for crushing the 15-19 year old age group at The Harvey Cedars Sprint Triathlon on June 3. Michael won his age group and finished 3rd overall!

Congratulations!

Congrats to Bob Goodheart who was 1st off his bike by two minutes in his age group at the Red Bank Olympic triathlon on his brand new Specialized Shiv. See the photo section for a picture of Bob with his new bike.