Fan Boy

A friend at work told me how her mother week before last was all concerned about the weather. “I don’t think the weather’s supposed to be bad here today,” my friend told her mom.

“No, in France,” her mom replied. She was worried about the bike riders.

I tell you this story by way of explaining that what Lance Armstrong does matters, and why I’m wearing a goofy yellow rubber band around my wrist. My friend’s mom is starting an aggressive round of chemotherapy this week. The whole not-dying-and-living-to-ride-again thing is so incredibly important.

I don’t for a minute think Armstrong let Ivan Basso win at La Mongie Friday because of the cancer thing, as some in the press have tried to suggest. But I also don’t doubt for a minute the sincerity of Armstrong’s attempt to help Basso’s mother. “We’ve been friends for a long time and off the bike we’re trying to work a little bit on his mum’s situation, to try to see if she can win the fight against cancer,” Armstrong said. There’s a sort of awkwardness to the normally smooth-talking Armstrong’s cadence in that sentence that’s endearing.

Living strong doesn’t have to be about time trialing up L’Alpe d’Huez. It can be something as simple as being fearless about tearing apart the drier to fix the drive belt yourself, even when you’re scared you won’t be able to put it back together.

So I feel a little bit silly about the fan boy thing, wearing the yellow thing on my arm. But it’s for my friend’s mom, and my dad, and my beloved Lissa and all the other people who stare down chemo and puke and lose their hair and turn around to live their lives. “It’s a long way from Indianapolis to Puy du Fou,” Armstrong said after he won the opening prologue of the 1999 Tour. Indianapolis was where he underwent cancer treatment. Puy du Fou is where he put on his first yellow jersey.

Words to live by.