Local News

Lance Armstrong's Success Inspires Cancer Patients Worldwide

Posted July 25, 1999

— For only the second time in Tour de France history, an American has pedaled his way first to the finish line, but that is not what makes this victory so spectacular.

Lance Armstrong won the race just a few years after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had just a 50-50 chance of surviving, which makes his win in one of the most grueling physical events anywhere all the more remarkable.

His victory is inspiring cancer patients to continue their fight, and thanks to Armstrong, the Tour de France won over a whole new viewing audience, many of them in hospital beds around the world.

"That was the only reason why I tuned in was just to see him," said Vince Cesaro, 28, who watched Armstrong's victory from the Bone Marrow unit at UNC Hospitals.

Cesaro has Hodgkin's disease and is scheduled for T-Cell transplant surgery. Armstrong's own story of overcoming testicular cancer could not have come at a better time.

"To see somebody who has been through it and has had the success, and not only success, but great success in Lance's case, that's terrific," Cesaro said. "It's a boost. It helps me. It should help a lot of other cancer patients."

Doctor Don Gabriel says he could not have prescribed better medicine.

"I'm sure every patient always asks himself, 'Is this really worthwhile? Am I really ever going to get through this?' And when they see such a dramatic example as Lance, it is a really wonderful thing for them," Gabriel said.

"This man had determination beyond belief," said Arlene Cesaro, who sees the same kind of determination in her son that propels Armstrong.

"We have a long road ahead of us yet, but he is determined," she said. "He was determined from the very beginning that he was going to beat this."

Lance Armstrong credits his faith, family and friends as the most important supports for his battle with cancer. Vince Cesaro says that is exactly what is getting him through his fight.

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