The cycle of life: Lance Armstrong chats with cancer patients at Groote Schuur Hospital. On his right is UCT's Prof Lynette Denny, who organised the occasion.
Many of his fans may have been disappointed that Lance Armstrong didn't win the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour on 14 March, but none of the cancer patients the cycling celebrity met at Groote Schuur Hospital two days before the race were anything but rapturous.
Armstrong had visited the hospital - media circus obligingly in tow - as part of the launch of the Livestrong Global Cancer Campaign, an initiative of his Livestrong Foundation (aka the Lance Armstrong Foundation). The campaign's work in South Africa will focus on partnering with local patient and cancer advocacy groups to end the stigma of cancer, and to "turn cancer victims into cancer survivors".
Living as a 25-year old with testicular cancer in "macho" Texas, he had some experience of the stigma associated with the disease, Armstrong told an attentive audience at the hospital.
"I too had to deal with stigma - how do I talk about this with my friends, with my family, with my loved ones?"
Armstrong's visit to the hospital had been agented by UCT's Professor Lynette Denny, who has been running a cervical-cancer screening project in Khayelitsha for many years.
"He's a cancer survivor and I've been working on cancer, so it was a good fit," said Denny, explaining her motivation for inviting Armstrong to Groote Schuur.
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