The Armstrong Story - Part IV
Part IV - A turn for the worse.
October 8th and would soon begin chemotherapy. He was already suffering from cancer when riding in the previous Tour de France and the Leeds Classic. "The doctors still don't understand how I was riding so well in August," says Armstrong.
Having already had the malignant testicle removed within days of his diagnosis, he confirmed that the cancer had also spread to his lungs and abdomen yet neither of these were considered serious enough to be operated on.
Following an initial course of chemotherapy, it was confirmed that he also had two superficial lesions on his brain; one over his motor skills and the other over his vision which were both also quickly operated on at the
After only six weeks of treatment Armstrong looked pale and weak and, most of his hair had fallen out. "If that's the worst that can happen, then fine. As long as I'm alive, that's what matters," he said. "I don't wanna die - I wanna live."
January 1st was penciled in as the day that he would be able to begin full time training again after trying to maintain as much of his fitness during his treatment with one-hour cycle rides, golf and basketball. Some weeks before he had reflected, "I don't know if I can ever get back to where I was - I don't know what this is going to do to me. I want to come back and race - absolutely. But my priority is to live, and that's what I'm fighting for now. My second aim is to race again at the highest level."
Throughout his illness his new employers were maintaining a careful eye on the situation; publicly offering their support and concern for Lance whilst eagerly hiring the services of both Tony Rominger and Maurizio Fondriest to plug up the gap left by him. "I was always uncomfortable being the only leader, so for me it's wonderful to have two riders as reliable and experienced as that alongside me," he said when questioned about his new teammates.
As 1997 approached, Armstrong appeared to be over the worst of his illness but a comeback seemed as distant as it ever had. As if overcoming the greatest challenge of his life were not enough, there were also rumblings from Europe that his new sponsors were not prepared to pay out a contract for what many now viewed as 'damaged goods'. Would he come back? Did he want to comeback? Would Armstrong still have the motivation and desire to compete in one of the world's toughest endurance sports? Many thought not - but one man was determined to prove his doubters wrong. One man, who for years fought hard to achieve and succeed for everything that he had. To leave his home