In 1996, Lance Armstrong was the number one cyclist in the world when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. While he would ultimately beat cancer and regain his status as the best in cycling, Lance's focus in life shifted to helping fund cancer research and prevention. Dr. Oz talks with Lance about his career, overcoming cancer and how the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the LIVESTRONG movement is changing lives.
When Lance was diagnosed with cancer on October 2, 1996, he was shocked. "I was very surprised—I had never broken a bone, never had tendonitis, never got colds, nothing," he says. Doctors said his chances of surviving were less than 50/50, but with chemotherapy and two surgeries to remove a cancerous testicle and cancerous lesions on his brain, Lance got his comeback in life and in the cycling world. "I truly believe that without that experience [of having cancer], I wouldn't have come back to win the Tours [de France]," he says.
While critics who knew of Lance's ordeal counted him out of competitive cycling, Lance persevered. "I had this real renegade attitude when I came back and said, 'I'll just try to win the biggest and hardest bike race in the world because nobody thinks I'm going to do anything,'" he says.
Twelve years and six consecutive Tour de France victories later, Lance is now retired from cycling and taking on a new mission to help fund cancer research through his foundation. In his home state of Texas, Lance helped pass Proposition 15, which will allot $3 billion dollars to cancer research and prevention in that state. "I had to look at it as if it was a race—I had to get it through [the] House, I had to get it through the Senate, and then I had to get the people to approve it," he says.
Through his website, Lance offers support and resources to people with cancer and their loved ones. His yellow LIVESTRONG fundraising wristbands have raised tens of millions of dollars for the foundation, and Lance himself often tours the nation to raise money for cancer research. However, he hopes someday his efforts won't be needed. "The biggest goal is that ultimately we don't need LIVESTRONG," he says. "The biggest goal is that we cure this disease and a whole set of diseases."