Sep 022005

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my cancer buddy and Tour de France champ, Lance Armstrong.

Maybe it’s because of all the wise things that Cancer, Baby had to say about the man in the yellow jersey.

And partly because everywhere I go, I see someone wearing some wrist band, of some colour, with which they hope to communicate some message.

I am still working through what I think about the jelly bracelet business.
And it certainly does seem to have mushroomed into a huge business overnight.
Imagine being the king of jelly bracelet production.
Why, I imagine the King of Jelly Bracelets is now sending his kids to private school, don’t you?

I have a yellow bracelet.
And I wore it pretty religiously, especially right after I got it.
And then a couple of things happened.
The first thing that happened was I noticed that other people seemed to wear theirs sometimes, and sometimes not.
See, for them, it was just another bit of jewellry(??), albeit with a social message attached.
Then I started to think that maybe other people can take their bracelets off because they just can.
They can take a day off from cancer.
Leave that yellow jelly bracelet next to the sink and wear something tasteful in silver instead.
And that just made me crabby.
And then I realized I had no idea what the silly little bracelets mean to anyone else.
Have I mentioned I have been mucho mental lately?

Then I had another problem.
Okay, maybe it is a problem that comes from having grown up queer and lived a life with a billion secret identifiers that hover beneath the radar of the common man.
See, I put on my little yeller bracelet and I felt like I would now be able to find my people.
My cancer people.
I mean, that in itself is kinda strange.
But I do have my cancer people now, and I am glad of that.
But I thought that the little yellow jelly bracelet was going to kick down the doors of the invisibility of cancer survivors and that we would…
I dunno what happens after we all meet up and identify each other.
I guess I just got stuck at that yummy Hallmark moment where we all hug and put all our previous differences behind us.
Anyway… I thought it would be great.
It would be just like so many of the secret signals we homos have been using for years and years, so I thought I would take to it like a duck to water.
I’d be a natural after all these years of living with the secret signals.
And then I would be out and I would see someone else with a tell-tale yellow bracelet and I would think, “Oh ho!!, a yellow bracelet!!”
And I would find them in the most unlikely places, on the most unlikely people.
Then I became really confused.
See, part of me thinks there are billions of people who are affected by cancer and many of them wear the snappy yellow bracelet.
People who had cancer and all their loved ones and supporters, all sporting the yellow bracelet.
And then I realized, as I saw the wee bracelets everywhere while the Tour de Lance was happening, that I think some folks wear them just because they think Lance Armstrong is super-cool.
Because, you know, nothing says “I think Lance is the man!” more than the stylish yellow bracelet.
And then I was completely confused and didn’t know if I should wear one or not.
And I think if you are totally in to bicycling and not that into cancer, maybe it’s weird to wear a yellow bracelet.
Not that I am the fashion police or anything… but really.
Just put on a Nike shirt if you just like the athletic angle of the story.

I am still piecing it all together, and I have gone back to wearing my bracelet, but I now give myself some freedom to take it off if the whim strikes.

And about Lance Armstrong and all those charges of performance enhancing drugs…
Here is what I think.
I don’t give a red rat’s ass.
Well, I guess that’s not completely true. I hope he didn’t.
But even if he did, so what?
Lance Armstrong represents hope for so many people.
I don’t care if he took performance enhancing drugs.
I can tell you, I couldn’t win the Tour de France with a barge full of performance enhancing drugs and I am willing to bet, neither could you.
I think Lance Armstrong is a symbol for us that life can go on after cancer, and that it can be a magnificent thing, full of accomplishment and challenges and thrills and joy.
Because when you know what it’s like to lay on your ass for months, and you see how he bounced back from that and did so much, that is a huge help.
I don’t care how he did it.
For me, it’s about the sense of hope he provides.

The other really huge thing about Lance Armstrong is, he has this life where he has gone back to doing the thing that he loves and he also stays devoted to giving something back to people with cancer.
I am still trying to figure out exactly what shape that will take in my life and how I will balance the drive to get things back to normal with the really deep need to give something back to the other people who are going through this.
To me, Lance Armstrong is about hope.
And about helping the people that come after you. Trying to make it just a little bit easier for them. Because it’s one of the few things we can do.

And finally, I just want to say, it’s time to knock it off with all the other jelly wristbands.
I mean, when they were for specific types of cancer, I was okay. A bit overwhelmed by the whole rainbow of bracelets but mostly okay.
But now, they are out there representing various political issues and even some bands are using them to advertise.
That’s too much, folks.
Knock it off.

 Posted by at 7:04 pm

  2 Responses to “Some thoughts on the Tour de Lance”

  1. Just a quick note to say that I believe in Lance (both as a symbol of hope and courage, and as an amazing athlete) and I believe in you. I wear my yellow bracelet for you and for Karen’s mom and for all the folks I care for at work everyday.
    *big hug*

  2. Hi Spike, I know what you mean about the rainbow of bracelets. I don’t mind the bracelets supporting cancer (I wear both yellow and teal). But now these bracelets have become a fashion accessory. I like spotting people wearing these bracelets because I feel like that’s part of me too. But the other day I was at Togo’s and the girl behind the counter was wearing a greenish color bracelet. I was curious to see which cancer that was for… she said, it was her little sisters bracelet she got from the Harry Potter club. whats up with that? I had one girl come up to me and ask me about my teal bracelet. I had a chance to talk to her a bit about me and ovarian cancer. That was pretty cool.

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