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Old 07-09-10, 03:01 PM   #1
Hydrated
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Lance's cancer induced mindset

Over the years, I've admired Lance's accomplishments... and I simply wrote it off as "Oh well, he's a genetic freak."

But my experiences over the past year have given me a new perspective on things, and I have a theory on why Lance has been so successful. Please bear with me while I put the parts together for you.

First off: I don't want to get into a doping argument. For the sake of this discussion let's assume that either everybody dopes or nobody dopes. Because that's actually the reality of it, so let's say that everyone is on a level playing field as far as doping goes. That means that something gave Lance a further advantage to win all those stages. And I think that I know what that advantage is, and I want to explore that possibility.

Let's flash back to set the table:
I'm an engineer, and I used to work with a guy (Jim) who was a retired Air Force Colonel who flew helicopters in Vietnam. He flew some of the most dangerous missions you could imagine... rescue missions where he had to hover stationary above the jungle while enemy soldiers took rifle shots at his chopper. Needless to say, those experiences changed his outlook on life... he rarely got upset or perturbed over most of the things that set the rest of us off.

Our engineering team was in the midst of a very contentious meeting once, and in the middle of the arguments we looked to Jim to ask his thoughts on the argument. He just looked at us and said, "These aren't real bullets." We all instantly knew what he meant, and it calmed the whole room as we realized that our issues weren't all that important.

Flash forward to this year:
My wife has always been a girlie-girl. You know the kind... a sissy who demanded anesthesia to remove a splinter from her finger. She hated any sort of discomfort or pain. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through surgery and painful radiation therapy. That experience changed her... it turned her into an iron woman when it comes to pain. Her doctors often marvel at how she stands up to even the most painful procedures.

A few days ago she was watching some highlights of past TdF stages with Lance footage. At one point I mentioned how impressive it was that Lance could withstand the suffering of those climbs.

She looked at me and said something interesting that I'll never forget: "That pain doesn't mean anything."

And I instantly understood. I know what she means. Cancer patients have endured pain that carries a deep and menacing threat. And that pain lives with them for every minute of every day of their recovery... the pain doesn't stop until it has burned into their psyche. That pain means that a disease is trying to kill you... and it changes you... it changed my wife from a sissy into a rock.

And I thought about Jim's words... my wife looks at our cycling induced pain and thinks, "Those aren't real bullets." That pain isn't trying to kill you. That pain will stop when you stop pedaling. Not a big deal in her book.

So maybe Lance sees pain the same way. Cycling pain is different for him because he's suffered on a different plane that you and I can't imagine. Does his mindset enable him to suffer on a different level than the rest of us because he knows what true suffering is?
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Old 07-09-10, 03:07 PM   #2
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Well said, well thought. Thank you for the thoughts.
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Old 07-09-10, 04:54 PM   #3
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Interesting perspective
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Old 07-09-10, 05:29 PM   #4
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Maybe, it's the story we would like to believe.
There are many ways to experience intense pain and recovery and to persever repeatedly.
Lance doesn't have the market covered in that respect.
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Old 07-09-10, 05:54 PM   #5
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Excellent post. I enjoyed it, and maybe learned something.
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Old 07-09-10, 06:04 PM   #6
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Maybe, it's the story we would like to believe.
There are many ways to experience intense pain and recovery and to persever repeatedly.
Lance doesn't have the market covered in that respect.
You're right... nearly every rider in the peleton has experienced pain and had to struggle to recover. Gotta say though... there's a huge difference between pain that may signify an end to your career (like an injury) and pain that may signify an end to your life (like in cancer). But you sort of missed my point.

And I'm not really sure what you mean by "the story we would like to believe". We pretty much know that he had cancer, and I just brought up the possibility that that experience changes people. It may have changed him.
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Old 07-09-10, 06:04 PM   #7
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Adrenalin plus pain induced endorphins equals major high. Maybe a higher high for Lance than others?
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Old 07-09-10, 07:14 PM   #8
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It's akin to someone who's "stared death in the face" and is different from that point on. All things considered, LA is nearly 39 years old, but I agree this is probable a motivator.

As an aside, a friend of mine who's been through Vietnam (shot more than once) a heart attack and then bladder cancer doesn't really fear all that much...go figure.
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Old 07-09-10, 07:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
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I'm an engineer, and I used to work with a guy (Jim) who was a retired Air Force Colonel who flew helicopters in Vietnam. He flew some of the most dangerous missions you could imagine... rescue missions where he had to hover stationary above the jungle while enemy soldiers took rifle shots at his chopper. Needless to say, those experiences changed his outlook on life... he rarely got upset or perturbed over most of the things that set the rest of us off.

Our engineering team was in the midst of a very contentious meeting once, and in the middle of the arguments we looked to Jim to ask his thoughts on the argument. He just looked at us and said, "These aren't real bullets."
I'm not sure I agree with the Jim analogy. Actually, situations like he went through can often induce symptoms along the lines of PTSD, even if it does not develop fully enough to qualify for the actual diagnosis, leaving the person afterwards a bit shell shocked with a greatly reduced ability to tolerate stress. Probably Jim had a pretty calm temperment before his tour of duty and that's what allowed him to do that job in the first place. Not disagreeing with your Lance speculations.
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Old 07-09-10, 10:39 PM   #10
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I hear Lance Armstrong may be changing his name to Lonce Omstrong. True or false?
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Old 07-10-10, 12:59 AM   #11
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I hear Lance Armstrong may be changing his name to Lonce Omstrong. True or false?
You are trying too hard.
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Old 07-10-10, 03:48 AM   #12
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After Lance won his first Tour, he was invited to attend an awards banquet that was selecting a top athlete (I will spare you all the details) and as a sponsor was invited to attend a post banquet party with the honorees. Lance was there. What was funny is that there were ski boarders, hockey players, track athletes, many of which you have heard. And there was this bike racer who had overcome cancer to win the toughest sporting event on the planet. So he's standing almost by himself, and being a former low level pro bike racer, he's the guy with which I have the most in common so we started talking. Remember, this is fall, 1999, and his story, while interesting did not capture the attention that is does now.
In the 1999 Tour the ride to Sestriere was the biggie. So I asked him about that, about the effort that it took to pull that off. His response, "After multiple bouts of chemotherapy, climbing a mountain on a bike is not too hard."
As with much in life, it's all about perspective.
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Old 07-10-10, 09:35 AM   #13
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Plus he only has one ball to get in the way.
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Old 07-10-10, 10:57 AM   #14
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Nice OP.

well said.
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Old 07-10-10, 12:22 PM   #15
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I work with a man who was a former New York City fireman - and lost most of his old friends on 9/11, and to this day when something goes wrong (for example, he lost his wallet a few weeks ago - credit cards included), he just shrugs it off and says, "It's not a problem", since nothing likely compares to what he did see while digging through the rubble for his old friends during the weeks after the building's collapse, and this way of thinking is probably similar to Lance's mindset, since he endured the kind of long-period suffering that only a cancer patient can understand, and also knows that most with a similar spread of cancer cells are no longer here, so to him the pain of today's mountain climb, while still painful, comes in a distant second to the suffering he endured during his illness, and similar to my co-worker it changes the way a person view's life - perhaps his critics (who have never been seriously ill) need to remind themselves of this...

Last edited by Glades2; 07-10-10 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Adding more thoughts and correcting typos...
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Old 07-10-10, 07:54 PM   #16
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op,
great point, mr. armstrong has been saying those same things ever since the first tour win and his recovery. i couldnt agree more. i have a very close friend that went through tc the year after lance and was helped immeasurably (sp) by lance, through email and other communication. i will be a fan forever. went to the ride for the roses one year, if that experience doesnt touch you, nothing will.
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Old 07-10-10, 08:12 PM   #17
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In addition i think Lance likes to inflict pain just as much as he has the capacity to take it.
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Old 07-10-10, 09:54 PM   #18
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Hydrated - great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

mwchandler21 - Not funny.
(And no, my viewpoint is not based on personally dealing with testicular cancer or anything similar.)
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Old 07-10-10, 10:24 PM   #19
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It's called perspective.
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Old 07-10-10, 11:07 PM   #20
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Hydrated - great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

mwchandler21 - Not funny.
(And no, my viewpoint is not based on personally dealing with testicular cancer or anything similar.)
Not trying to be funny. Theres got to be some advantage in not having as much discomfort in the saddle.
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Old 07-11-10, 02:21 AM   #21
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Thank you, it was a great read.
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Old 07-11-10, 09:27 AM   #22
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It's called perspective.
And I doubt that one needs to have gone through a near-death
experience to have one similar to Lance's or any other cancer survivor.
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Old 07-11-10, 11:26 AM   #23
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And I doubt that one needs to have gone through a near-death
experience to have one similar to Lance's or any other cancer survivor.
You obviously haven't gotten an up close and personal look at cancer... watch someone sit and ponder their own death when it's closing down on them like a train. That gives you a perspective that few other things will.

Your statement shows me that you have a lot more living to do before you'll understand.
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Old 07-11-10, 11:43 AM   #24
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You obviously haven't gotten an up close and personal look at cancer... watch someone sit and ponder their own death when it's closing down on them like a train. That gives you a perspective that few other things will.

Your statement shows me that you have a lot more living to do before you'll understand.
Inorrect
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Old 07-11-10, 07:24 PM   #25
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Inorrect
...............
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