I don’t know you, but I feel like I know you. Maybe it’s because we share a love for endurance sports. Or maybe it’s because I’ve watched and read about you for so many years.
I remember watching the Tour de France in 1995. Your teammate Fabio Casartelli was killed that year in the Tour when his bike crashed on a dangerous mountain decent. A few days after Fabio’s death, you rode away from the peloton by yourself to win the stage. That day you rode with Fabio. That day you rode with your heart.
The next year you were diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I had no idea how serious your condition was. I later read that you were given a 40% chance of survival. From a world class athlete to a sick patient staring death in the face, you fell into a chasm most humans will never fall. But then you fought back. From that very dark place, you fought back with all your heart.
Your fight to climb out from that dark place is what people care about. Maybe it is because, as human beings, we all need hope. Maybe it is because hope transcends so many things we experience as humans beings. Weakness, fear, passion, success, regret, even death. Hope transcends them all. You should never forget that you have given people hope.
But there is one thing that hope cannot transcend. That is truth. In fact there can be no hope without truth. For a patient to have hope to survive a life threatening illness, he first must know the truth of his condition. For a young athlete to have hope to be a champion one day, she first must know the truth about the rules of her sport. Hope without truth is denial.
Thoreau said “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” But who was Thoreau? Some cast him aside because he lived in the woods as a hermit, away from society and all its pressures. We all know society and its pressures. Sometimes it can make us lose perspective on what is really important.
Just as hope needs the truth to exist, the truth needs nothing at all. The truth exists even when there is no hope. Maybe that is why it is very difficult for us humans to embrace the truth all of the time. For we humans need hope, and when there is no hope, we struggle, and sometimes we turn away from the truth.
Lance, now is the time for you to embrace the truth. When you do, an abundance of hope will be waiting for you. Hope for the continued success of Livestrong. Hope for millions of cancer patients that look to your strength above all else as a cancer survivor. Hope for forgiveness and your own piece of mind. Even hope for the sport of cycling to find its own path to truth.