LANCE: The Making of the World's Greatest Champion
Introduction to and an excerpt from the new book LANCE: The Making of the World's Greatest Champion by John Wilcockson.
on. I think that got Lance thinking for the first time about giving some¬thing back in the cancer space. Because this kid was in worse shape than Lance was, and that was the first time he saw someone in that situation who was a kid. It moved him.” That night, Lance seemed more relaxed than the close friends gathered around his bed. “Dr. Nicholls had just walked in and said the brain operation was like cutting a pumpkin,” College says. “He said, ‘We just cut in a little hole and it pops right out, and then we put the pumpkin head back on.’ That freaked me out. So Lance slapped me on my knee and said, ‘It’s gonna be okay, College.’”
On October 24, Lance had the brain surgery.
“When he went in, he was worried, but I got scared,” Carmichael says, lowering his voice to a whisper. “At this point, I thought I was going to his funeral. I never said that or anything, but I was thinking, ‘Am I gonna go to this guy’s funeral?’”
“The surgery was pretty tough on him,” Och says. “Dr. Shapiro re¬moved the tumors, but Lance now had big scars on his head. It took a bit of recovery. And the treatment was always getting deeper, harder; he was sleeping more and getting all the symptoms: nausea, the mouth sores. . . . Right after the brain surgery, we went for a walk outside. We tried to move him around, but he didn’t even want to do that then. Pretty surprising for a guy like that.
“That was the only time he ever said to me that he thought he might die from this experience. We were sitting outside and he said, ‘Right now, I’m not sure I’m gonna beat this. And I don’t wanna die.’ But I never thought he was gonna die. I don’t know why. He certainly looked like it.”
Lance recalls a later meeting with his cancer doctors, including Shapiro, Nicholls, and Einhorn. “They’d seen more cases than any¬body, literally seen tens of thousands of international cases,” Lance says. “I asked, ‘How bad was it? Worse than 50 percent of cases you’d seen?’ Worse. ‘Worse than a quarter?’ Worse. ‘Bottom 10 percent?’ Worse. And I got it all the way down to the worst 2 or 3 percent they’d ever seen. Fuck.”
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