Cyclist Wins Cancer Battle
(Santa Barbara, California) He's one of those guys you pass in your car and envy, a guy on a bike, climbing hills and mountains you know you never could. What you don't know is cancer almost killed that guy on the bike, and the world is about to see what it's like when someone like him comes back from the dead.
Mr. Lance Armstrong: I was in denial. I thought this can't be, because I'm 25 years old. I'm one of the best in my sport. Why I would have cancer?
Smith: Why indeed? A world champion, a winner of America's Tour DuPont, a stage winner in the Tour de France Â— without question the best bike racer in America, and with a superhero's name to boot: Lance Armstrong.
Mr. Armstrong: I think that cancer is one of these things that, in certain instances, it just strikes randomly. It just attacks.
Smith: Eighteen months ago, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It had moved into his lungs, even his brain.
Mr. Armstrong: The tumor markers that they used to detect my cell type, my cancer type...
Mr. Armstrong: ...Yours is zero; mine is now zero. If you come in and you have, say, 10 or 20, you have a problem.
Mr. Armstrong: If you had 100, you have a really bad problem. Mine was 50,000. I mean, it was just off the chart.
Smith: A brutal regimen of chemotherapy robbed him of his hair and strength, but it beat the cancer into submission.
Mr. Armstrong: Hat. No hat.
Smith: Cancer changed Armstrong. He says it's the best thing that ever happened to him.
Mr. Armstrong: I think it's happened for a reason, and I'm glad that things have worked out the way they have. And I walk around Â— I live life now completely different than I did before. I'm so much happier.
Smith: His joy comes from doing what he used to take for granted.
Mr. Armstrong: These mountains that I now go up like I did before, it's a miracle. I want to prove to the sport of cycling, which has no faith in me whatsoever, and the society of cancer that has a lot of faith in me, that it can be done.
You're gonna hate me for this.
And he's found a cause: convincing virtually everyone he encounters to be more health-conscious.
Mr. Armstrong: You probably must take your health a little bit for granted?
Smith: A bit.
Mr. Armstrong: Yeah. I mean, do you go in for prostate screening?
Smith: Haven't seen a doctor in 15 years.
Mr. Armstrong: See? There you go.
Smith: Lance will start racing again in Europe next month...
Mr. Armstrong: Want me show you race pace?
Smith: Yeah. Do it.
But for him, the definition of victory and defeat has changed.
Mr. Armstrong: I only have good days, never any bad days. They're either good or great.
Smith: Cancer, he says, will teach you that. Harry Smith, CBS News, Santa Barbara, California.
First aired on the CBS Evening News
January 30, 1998