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Lance Armstrong Has a Mission

February 8, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Lance Armstrong sees himself a role model whose role is to save lives.

``As an athlete who is in the public eye, it is my responsibility to tell my story,″ he said Tuesday.

America’s top cyclist counts himself as a survivor of testicular cancer.

The Tour de France winner has been free of the disease for more than three years even though he delayed treatment. He had been terrified about what he would learn if he went to a doctor.

``Fear almost cost me my life,″ Armstrong says in a television public service announcement that was shown at a news conference announcing the formation of Cycle of Hope, an education campaign created by the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

He explained how he ignored the first symptom, swollen testicles, in the spring of 1996.

``When he did see me in October that year, the cancer had moved into his abdomen, brain and lungs,″ said Dr. Craig Nichols, an oncologist Armstrong credits with saving his life.

The cyclist underwent chemotherapy and surgery.

``Had he had not sought treatment when he did, he would not have lived out 1996,″ Nichols said.

Because he did survive, Armstrong created his foundation for the purpose of fighting the disease.

Cycle of Hope is aimed at supporting early detection, encouraging a team approach to treatment and letting those with cancer know there is hope.

Some speakers at the news conference estimated the educational campaign could save millions of lives.

Armstrong said winning the Tour de France was important to him for reasons other than sport. He thinks, just maybe, someone was prompted to see a doctor because of all the publicity.

``If one person learns about this and is saved because he is diagnosed, it will be a success to me, personally,″ Armstrong said. ``I’m not talking about saving 10 million.″

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