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    Posted January 15, 2013 by
    Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, Mexico
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Lance Armstrong speaks out

    More from oysterponder

    LiveSTRONG... it was about surviving my dance with cancer


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     oysterponder says he is very supportive of the Livestrong Foundation despite being conflicted about Lance Armstrong, the man. He described his love of cycling: 'I have been cycling since childhood. Following my cancer (I have also had two open heart surgeries to replace my aortic valve) surgeries, chemo and radiation, I started riding again because it was a way to be lone with my thoughts. As I got back into shape, it proved to me that I could not only recover, but the 45 pounds I lost through the cancer actually gave me an advantage when climbing on the bike. It helped me become positive.'

    He got involved with the Livestrong Foundation after his surgeon invited him on a bike ride in which he would get to ride with Armstrong. 'After that ride, I started using my riding speed and stamina to raise money for cancer and heart diseases every year, and still do.' He also described Lance as sometimes difficult to get along with, and said he tries to be nice to new riders. 'I am not certain if I can relate to Lance. I have never liked him, but I have learned many cycling lessons from him. While he trained, often on his own, he did things no one else did as far as preparing for the Tour ... bad weather riding, high cadence riding, insane speed descents, I learned from that, and while nowhere near his level, I got better and better as a rider. I also learned that Lance was a prick with many other riders, so I focused on helping other riders instead of being a jerk. New riders especially taught me that one day I was new to cycling and needed to learn. I have more fun on the bike by being inclusive. Lance needs this lesson!'

    He is uncomfortable with the idea of doping. 'I do like to win, but I would be very unwilling to do it illegally. It was Lance's penchant for training and technique development that fooled me into thinking that he had something I wanted to emulate, even at my age. As a result, I often defended him when people accused him of enhancements like EPO or transfusing.' oysterponder's focus is primarily on the foundation rather than Armstrong. He always wears two Livestrong bracelets, one for each of the instances of his cancer. 'When people ask me about Lance, I try to leave him out of the conversation if I can discuss Livestrong in the answer. For me, the last year has been all about the foundation.'
    - nsaidi, CNN iReport producer

    When I was diagnosed with cancer, again and then again, several things happened... First I learned about survival through "Its Not About The Bike". Then I received the LiveSTRONG cancer survivor GUIDEBOOK binders that helped me make decisions and interface with my care givers in Nova Scotia. Then I went through about twelve hours of surgery, chemo and radiation... all with the vision of beating cancer in my mind's eye from LiveSTRONG. Then a couple of years later, my surgeon invited me to ride with him in support of Kid's Cancer from Vancouver, BC to Austin, TX with GIVE TO LIVE where we interfaced with LiveSTRONG.
    Riding mountain passes with forty other riders who were all fired up about raising money for cancer care and research was a powerful reminder that it is a big family we are in... cancer survivors, care givers, family and even the memories of those 14 of my extended family and millions of others who passed because of this disease; It was an awesome experience. It was sheparded by LiveSTRONG all the way...

    Getting back on the bike and raising money for cancer care and research has helped make my life more full, more fulfilling and it has gotten me healthy again. When the cancer tries to come back on me, I will pound it like a km of 10% elevation! The Big Move Cancer Ride for example, is all about beating cancer and rides like it bring people together, not because of Lance; it is because we are together as family to make live better.

    What I am saying is that my two bracelets were on my wrist when I had my second surgery in 2006 and they have been on since... every day, every minute (had to replace one that broke) since. Being a seven year survivor only makes me more interested in supporting LiveSTRONG... their Cancer Guidebook Binders are incredible resources for all cancer patients; I give them out to newly diagnosed patients I meet.

    I did think Armstrong was an important part of getting LiveSTRONG traction in the charity world... but for years, LiveSTRONG has been bigger than Lance. Let's forget about his part in doping,.. and benefit from all that LiveSTRONG can bring to our dance with the disease. I am way, way better for my experience with cancer and especially LiveSTRONG.

    Will I wear my bracelets? Of course I will! I will livestrong and then some day die with them on my arm. Until then, I plan to come back up to Canada and ride In the Big Move Cancer Ride in September and the GIVE TO LIVE ride for kid's cancer from Banff, Alberta to Boulder, CO, later in September. And I hope some of the money will find its way to LiveSTRONG.
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