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My position on Lance Armstrong

September 29, 2012

That moment when you are running down the road… it’s fall so it’s crisp, it’s raining, but you are perfectly dressed in shorts, a long sleeved tech shirt and gloves. There are cars coming towards you and you see the spray from their wheels launching directly into the path you are running, and you can see the cloud of denseness that you are about to run through…..

and you think…. bring it on.

Those are the moments that once fleeted me that have begun to return. The not how much longer to I have….. how far can I go?

Those moments that you really begin to understand that you could be the fittest athlete on the planet, yet if the distance you have trouble crossing is the space between your ears….. you are screwed. the person you thought you were, is absolutely no match for the person you actually are.

No one gets to dictate that, teach that, own that but you.

It’s an entirely new level of sport. And life.

As it continues to come around I have to laugh. I tried to read myself through it, think myself through it. Will myself through it. Talk myself through it. At the end of the day I just had to go through it. Right through the middle. You do come out the other side though and you come out clearer and you come out more focused and you come out with strength and determination you never even knew you had.

While I have always had a very clear sense of self, of who I am…… it is strengthened. I have never been one to be dictated by what others thought of me…. I have always had a very strong internal compass. I have a very strong sense of purpose. Especially this year. Especially after Lance Armstrong  taught me what it means to believe in something at all costs and go after it with everything you have.

Have I taken some shit for my association with Mr. Armstrong? You bet. Do I care? Not at all. I don’t give one shit about an investigation, Tyler Hamilton, or anyone. I ignore all of it and move forward. Those who try to engage me in the debate….. I don’t get engaged with. Have at it. I am not part of it.

Several years ago I was taking care of a 20 year old young man. He already had two children. Young children. When he came to us he was hospice, but his mother understandably didn’t know when to stop all measures. You see…. people don’t just die. Systems don’t all go at once. Hearts stop then you struggle to breathe. You drown due to pneumonia and then your heart lingers on. Pulling the plug on someone doesn’t meant here is a big golden plug in the wall that you pull and everything happens beautifully.

She has to decide what would be done for him and how long. That’s a task too much to bear for a mother. She brought him into this world and she would decide in part…. how he would leave this world.

His oxygen levels began to drop. Once his saturation went below 80% we began the silent code. No compressions. Just oxygen via an ambu bag. Instead of calling the loud hospital code one phone call was made and then the people who needed to be there medically quietly came into the room.

I stood at the head of his bed and I gave the breaths. My colleague stood across from me. Tears rolled down my face and dripped on him. His mother stood next to me. His family stood around holding one another.

Then from somewhere in the room his aunt began to sing. She began to sing “Jesus loves you.”. As his oxygen saturation dropped to 70, 60, 50, 40…… and his respiration lowered from 18 to 12….. 10……… 8, her singing became louder. Her voice was capturing, with strength and love as it was as if she were lifting him to heaven with it.

Pause. Pause in that moment. That moment between life and death. Two children losing their father. A mother losing her son.

This is the moment that defines everything for me. In this moment right here I don’t give a rats ass about doping. I don’t give a damn about the Tour De France. I don’t care about it at all. This is real life and this man dying from Leukemia. To me this is so much more important. In this moment I don’t care if they shoot themselves up with ketchup.

This is real life.

His mother wrapped her arms around me as I continued to give him breaths. She rested her cheek on my shoulder and softly said…. you can stop now. I felt like I was that last connection between his life and his death.  I released my grip. And he continued to slip into his afterlife, and there was that one last agonal breath that makes you question everything you have ever done in your life. His eyes opened wide, as is he saw something amazing above, then he relaxed into the bed.

He was gone.

That is what drives me. He was too young. The teens I work with at Teens Living With cancer are too young. Thanks to the help of Mr. Armstrong we have raised now almost ninety thousand dollars for this organization and LiveStrong.

Because we can put a man on the damn moon and a rover on Mars…… yet these kids are still the forgotten age group. They are dying.  I promise you this….. at the end of their day, of their long days of chemotherapy and radiation and surgeries and the illness that goes with it….

They don’t give a flying f*ck about the Tour De France either.

I know you’ve had relatives succumb to Cancer. We all have. But it touches me on the deepest possible level for reasons I will avoid taking the time to explain. Until you stare down the barrel of this gun….. you probably don’t get it at all.

It takes money to do research. It takes money to pay their insurance. It takes money to keep an organization like Teens Living With Cancer rolling. Money talks and we raised again….. almost $90,000. To an organization like Teens Living With Cancer….. that’s EVERYTHING. And this is an organization that is vital to these Teens. VITAL.

So I stand in the army behind Mr. Armstrong. Because he came when we asked him to, without one question or one requirement. Did you?

That experience taught me to be strong for what I believe in. It taught me that when you have a strong internal compass and you follow it for the right reasons that people will throw at you. Talk about you and scream at you. You keep moving forward anyway. Because you are not swayed by anything except what you believe in.

I believe in fighting for these Teens. Because I love them with all of my heart.

As I was running through the rain and running through the splash of the cars it became crystal clear to me. I know what I believe in. And I run straight at it. And there is nothing that can hold us back from getting to where we believe we can.

So don’t bother asking me. I have already moved forward. Cancer didn’t stop killing. So we can not stop working.

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11 comments

  1. Love this Mary. Good on you for standing FIRM on what you believe. $90k… that’s just incredible. Thank you for all the amazing work you for these kids. Much respect to you.


    • Thank you so much Kelly, that means a lot coming from you! I will be in Kona, and you get some extra cheering from us!


  2. Mary, I’m a 100% with you on your position. Doping or no doping, I really don’t care. His legacy goes so much further than a yellow jersey! It’s a beautifully written piece. Thank you!


  3. Great post, Mary. I love that you tell it like it is. Let’s start having a discussion about what really matters, not the stuff that doesn’t.


  4. RIGHT ON KC!


  5. Love it, thank you for sharing! Have you read this yet? It’s a more sarcastic version of your message: http://howsbrian.com/2012/08/how-lance-and-livestrong-totally-screwed-me/


    • I DID READ THAT!

      And loved it. THANK YOU!!!!


  6. Great post Mary.. he gives people hope. Who gives a shit about the trophies. He’s turned yellow into the color of hope and that has nothing to do with how many titles he has won.


  7. I love you.
    that is all.
    amazing post.


  8. What a fabulous post! Well done.


  9. God bless you. And thank you.



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