Like many of you, I have been reading the various news stories about Lance Armstrong, especially one this past weekend in a major newspaper, which went into great detail about the allegations surrounding Lance Armstrong’s cycling career.
But what I didn’t see in all of that coverage was much mention of the other side of the man, the side that I witnessed up close and personal one Friday in Texas a couple of years ago, the side that has led me to share my thoughts with you today.
I saw something that day that I had never-let me repeat, never-seen before. It was a moment that has forever influenced my opinion of Mr. Armstrong, even as these various charges have swirled about him these past couple of years. And the impression it created was indelible.
I am not here to hash/rehash the incriminations. I am here to stand up and say that no matter what the truth is regarding the allegations, this is a man who has forever changed the cancer landscape for millions of people in this country and around the world.
Well, it didn’t take long to get into the New Year, did it?
There I was this earlier this week, starting my New Year right by getting exercise on my elliptical when I heard the announcement that Johnson & Johnson was partnering with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s cancer center and other major cancer centers to evaluate the potential of a new technology which can isolate single cancer cells circulating in the blood of patients with known cancers.
The news in itself is an impressive step forward in this type of research. Being able to isolate a single cancer cell in a sample of blood is in a sense one of the holy grails of cancer research. Scientists have been working diligently on developing these techniques for a number of years, and to now have a technology that may in fact move that dream closer to a clinical reality where it actually improves the treatment of patients with cancer is exciting.
However, there is always a caution that comes along with these types of announcements.
First, and perhaps the most obvious, is the fact that this is an announcement of a research deal. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not a new breakthrough. It is not something that has been proven effective in improving cancer detection and treatment. Not that it is anything less than stunning to develop and demonstrate that this technology works-but as with all research it is a giant step to go successfully from the laboratory phase of development to the clinical phase of making a real difference in patients’ lives.