Today is Livestrong Day. I remember the day of its genesis. I was, and still am, an avid bike racing fan because I was a bike racer before my spine degenerated too much for me to race. On that day many years ago, I was teaching a class, and a student hurried into the room, announcing as she arrived that Lance Armstrong had just been diagnosed with cancer. I have to admit that I didn't believe it in my heart. After all, he was a strapping, youthful, and incredibly strong bike racer.
Later, I found out that it was true that America's young and most promising bike racer had cancer. Cancer spares no one, not even the strongest among us. None of us or our dogs is immune. It could be waiting just around the next curve in the trail.
I closely followed Lance's recovery and finally his comeback to professional racing. I cheered with all my heart as he gradually climbed toward the top of the professional ranks again, getting high placings in the Tour of Spain and world championships in his first year back. Then, in his second post-cancer year of bike racing, he won the Tour de France. It was a fairy tale.
When his yellow Livestrong bracelets came out, I wore one, in memory of my mother who died of breast cancer at a young age and in memory of my dog Acadia who died from complications of a brain tumor. While I had my bracelet on, our dog, S, a sweet-hearted yellow lab, died of cancer. I kept wearing it for a long time in memory of all of those who I'd lost.
I also wore my Livestrong bracelet to ward off the evil C from me. My greatest fear is that I will die the same way that my mother did. My Livestrong bracelet felt like protective armor. Partly because of this fear that lives deep in my soul, I rarely miss a day of doing the things that I love.
I saw my mother's brother recently. He pulled me aside at the end of the get-together, and he said "Your mother isn't dead. She lives on in you. It's eerie to be in the same room as you - *you are your mother* in so many ways". We both cried. My tears were partly for how honored I felt to be compared to my mother in that way.
Because I'd embraced the Livestrong message, I was truly dismayed when a barrage of stories emerged in recent years suggesting that Lance cheated to win his Tours de France. It's never been proven, and there's no rock-solid evidence of cheating. But, last summer, I finally took off my Livestrong bracelet. I felt wrong about wearing it if the man who inspired it was a fraud.
Since then, I've gradually realized that, by our moral and legal standards, he is innocent until proven guilty, and he's never been proven guilty. Moreover, Lance's tireless campaign against cancer is the best possible way that he can use his fame. So, I'm participating in Livestrong Day today.
The yellow that I've shown you throughout this post is from our natural world. I wish that no one ever has to face down cancer again. I'm sending my strength to all of you and your dogs who are facing it now - you know who you are. Live Strong. Be Strong. Have Hope.