By Prachiti Dhopatkar
We all have different interpretations of success, for some it means power, for some it is money and for some it is relationships. To me success is hanging in there and finishing the impossible. It’s the exact feeling when you conquer a task which you never thought you would manage to survive. There are many stories of people who achieve, who win and who motivate. But to me there is one who stands out from them all, Lance Armstrong.
Lance was an athlete who loved doing what he was best at and going the extra mile to be a winner. But there was a steep turn which changed his life forever, and that turn was cancer. Being diagnosed with stage four testicular cancer and forty percent chances of survival he made up his mind to make the obstacle an opportunity and take it one step at a time.
The life of a road cyclist means having your feet clamped to the bike pedals churning at 20 to 40 miles an hour, for hours for days on end, imagine the feeling of all this come to a standstill, the feeling of not knowing whether you will be able to see the next morning or not. How painful would it be quitting the one thing you were best at? But instead off worrying about the consequences Lance faced the challenge head on. He did not become a victim of cancer he became a student of cancer. He went to the biggest bookstore in Austin and bought everything on the subject. From diet books to books on coping emotionally to meditation guides he was willing to consider every option. He made up his mind “No Matter What I am going to beat this!”
To us fear would be limited to the dark or to reptiles, ever thought of fearing a doctor. He has the power to make to live or die, one wrong move and you could be in the worst of situations. At that moment it was Lance’s fear. The fear to believe in the doctor someone who you has full control of your every breath. The treatment made him believe in belief merely for his own self or else he would be left with nothing but an overwhelming doom every single day.
To us as bystanders cancer is loss of hair, or a silky pallor but actually it’s the side effects of the treatment. Cancer is a vague sense of unwellness, chemo is actually an endless series of specific horrors. It was ironical that the worse he felt the better he got.
On December 13th 1996 he beat cancer, it was his last chemo and was almost time to go home. Finally the battle against cancer invading his body and the chemotherapy that threatened to sap his soul was over.
It was finally conquered. It came, he conquered, now what? It seemed like a triumph, was it really? It was difficult to get back to your life after living for an entire year terrified of dying. Was it about really about the bike or getting on with life? It was like he was in the last lap of his race a situation which decided his survivorship. With all his will he managed to conquer this obstacle also. Just sixteen months after Lance was discharged from hospital he entered the Tour de France a race framed for its grueling intensity, and won, in the fastest time ever.