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Two Cancer Survivors, Two Opinions On Lance Armstrong And His Troubles

Suleika Jaouad says she still supports Lance Armstrong.
Suleika Jaouad
Suleika Jaouad says she still supports Lance Armstrong.

It's been a tough few months for Lance Armstrong. Within the past two weeks, the United States Anti-Doping Agencyreleased all its evidence against him, many of his sponsors walked away from him andhe resign from Livestrong, the cancer charity he founded.

Today, on All Things Considered two cancer survivors share two very different opinions on how they view Armstrong in light of the doping evidence which Nike, his former sponsor, called "seemingly insurmountable."

Dan MacAlpine says Armstrong has become a disgrace.
/ Kirk R.Williamson
Kirk R.Williamson
Dan MacAlpine says Armstrong has become a disgrace.

Livestrong, by the way, celebrates its 15th anniversary today.

Dan MacAlpine, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, says that Armstrong gave a face to his disease. He felt if Armstrong could win the Tour de France after facing testicular cancer, "how much more proof did anyone need to know you could lose a testicle and still be a whole man?"

The doping allegations have changed all of that for MacAlpine. He wrote:

"Despite the whispers. Despite the rumors. I stuck with Lance, mostly because I couldn't believe anyone who has survived cancer — a father no less — would risk triggering some stray cancer cell by using Performance Enhancing Drugs.

"Now the evidence shows Lance was the worst of hypocrites. He preyed on people's need to believe. People like me. Lance was more than a cycling champion. Far more important, he was a cancer champion. Now he's just a disgrace.

"But even Lance's sins can't destroy his message of facing and fighting cancer — now it's up to us carry on that message and be our own cancer champions."

Suleika Jaouad, a 24-year-old New Yorker, said she's sticking with Armstrong, mostly because her connection to Armstrong didn't come from cycling, but from his struggle with cancer. She wrote:

"This past April, just before my bone marrow transplant, I began to read Lance Armstrong's autobiography Every Second Counts. In those long and lonely weeks isolated in the bone marrow transplant unit, I faced the possibility that I might die.

"And Lance was there with me.

"In May, he even tweeted me directly writing, 'get well soon, girl.'

"Reading about how Lance not only survived stage IV cancer but embarked on a quest to spare others the suffering he endured, set a fire under me. I too wanted to live. To — like Lance — fight like hell and think of myself not just as a cancer patient but as a survivor — a cancer thriver."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.