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Cancer survivor feels sting of Armstrong's betrayal

  • FILE - In this July 6, 2010 file photo, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of the U.S., right, looks at his opponent and 2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain, as they ride in the pack during the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 213 kilometers (132.4 miles) with start in Wanze, Belgium and finish in Arenberg, France. Just days after Lance Armstrong's doping admission, cycling is set for more damaging revelations as a long-delayed drug investigation finally goes to court in Spain. Seven years after Spanish investigators uncovered one of cycling's most sophisticated and widespread doping rings, some of its central figures will stand trial on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 in the Operation Puerto case. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, File)

In those dark days when she was battling thyroid cancer, and then again 13 years later when she was dealing with melanoma, Teresa McConville always had Lance Armstrong. Sure, of course, her husband was there by her side, as well as her two daughters, and the friends she made in Sonoma County. And the oncologists. She'll never forget the oncologists. Yes, Teresa's team were many and they were strong.

But Lance, well, this was different for McConville. He was waging the war publicly against the disease, beating testicular cancer, then beating everyone on the bike for seven years at the Tour de France.

"Sure, winning all those years, things seemed a little fishy," McConville said. "I mean there are so many good cyclists in the world."

Lance Armstrong Through The Years

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Still, McConville believed in Armstrong if for no other reason than she wanted to believe. People who have or are fighting cancer look for support and hope wherever they can find it. And Armstrong, well, he made it easy for people to find him. He was everywhere. With celebrities. With proclamations. With those yellow wristbands. With "Livestrong" on his wrist wherever he went. Cancer changes people and oh my gosh, look what it did to Lance Armstrong! He beat it and is now our spear carrier, McConville thought, leading our fight, the good fight.

"He gave a lot of inspiration to me," said McConville, who lived in Santa Rosa for 12 years and is returning to the city for good this summer after spending two years in Fresno.

McConville, 56, didn't watch the two-part Armstrong interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey last week. She already has learned enough through various media sources. Lance will say he doped. Lance will say he is sorry. Lance will say he is flawed. Lance won't go into details and McConville, whose daughters went to high school at Piner and Santa Rosa, didn't care about the details.

"It's really disturbing, him lying about all this," McConville said. "It's heartbreaking. This is so upsetting to me."

Speaking by phone from Fresno, McConville's voice rose when asked specifically what most irritated her.

"He's standing up there," said McConville, referring to an awards podium, "and saying in so many words, &‘Look at the golden boy! Nothing can touch me!'"

That's what tweaks McConville more than anything — Armstrong's unabashed display of bravado, as if cancer was another opponent he waxed going up the Alpe d'Huez. Each day was an all-comers event for Armstrong: Come one, come all, and I'll beat all of ya, including those who accuse me of doping.


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