The Livestrong Legacy

The recent scandal regarding Lance Armstrong and doping allegations has come as a shock to many people around the world. According to “Fox News”, the International Cyling Union (ICU) stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, on Monday, October 23. The prior Wednesday, October 17, Armstrong announced his resignation as chairman of his nonprofit organization, the Livestrong foundation. With the controversy, what does this latest scandal mean for the Livestrong Foundation? Although Armstrong has been stripped of his cycling titles, the work Livestrong has done for cancer patients should not be forgotten.

Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October of 1996, and the cancer quickly spread to his brain, abdomen and lungs. After immediate and intense chemotherapy and surgery to remove his cancer-ridden testicle, the doctors working with Armstrong gave him a roughly 40 percent chance of survival. Just over a year after that, in early January of 1998, the champion cyclist was already back to training.

Armstrong’s survival story in itself is phenomenal, but to continue to compete in a race as grueling as the Tour de France was inspirational for many people fighting their own battles against cancer. However, with the recent scandal, Livestrong has lost its icon of resilience. So what does the organization’s future look like now that Armstrong no longer holds his Tour de France titles? Lance Armstrong’s ethics in cycling may have been called into question, but this does not effect Livestrong in its efforts to help cancer patients.

On October 19, National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasted a segment called “Two Cancer Survivors, Two Opinions On Lance Armstrong And His Troubles,” in which two cancer survivors were interviewed. One of the survivors, Suleika Jaouad, who became infertile at the age of 24 because of ovarian cancer, said Livestrong helped her cover the $25,000 cost to freeze her eggs so that she would have the option of having children later in her life.

So, why should Livestrong’s image be ruined based on allegations made against its founder? While it is true that Livestrong has benefited from Armstrong’s fame, the foundation itself deserves credit for helping people suffering from all different types of cancer. In short, it is not just a pedestal for Armstrong to stand upon.

Picture a young man who lost his leg to bone cancer, but was able to return to his original level of mobility and athleticism thanks to the prosthetic leg the Livestrong Foundation gave him. When the ICU took back Armstrong’s seven victories did they also take back the prosthetic leg? Absolutely not. While Armstrong’s titles have been removed, the results of Livestrong’s work have not. Yes, Livestrong began with Armstrong, but since its conception it has become a force in its own right.

Caroline Mesinger is a Junior from North Andover, MA.