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Fignon struggling on

Laurent Fignon faces his toughest test yet... beating cancer

Laurent Fignon faces his toughest test yet... beating cancer (Image credit: AFP)

Laurent Fignon, who won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, continues to fight against cancer. Fignon was initially diagnosed with intestinal cancer in May 2009, and after a series of chemotherapies, his doctors now found out that the cancer originated in his lungs.

"Despite my treatments during the last seven months, my cancer has barely diminished," Fignon told French magazine Paris Match. "I will start a new chemotherapy next week."

Fignon spoke openly about his disease and was not afraid to tell things as they were. "I am not dead, but I am not healing, either. Today, I'm okay, but yesterday, I was really tired."

As many patients with advanced cancer, doctors are trying to find the right chemotherapy to work on the affected body parts. "The first chemo after the Tour de France [2009, which he attended as a consultant for French TV - ed.] didn't work very well. The second one reduced the tumors by 17 percent. This one was supposed to be the right one, but I didn't support it. They were forced to stop one of the products that composed the treatment, unfortunately the most efficient one. It seems they have not found the right remedy against the illness yet."

Fignon also discussed assertions that his cancer may be linked to the doping practices he admitted in his autobiographic book "Nous étions jeunes et insouciants" (We were young and carefree) published before he was diagnosed with the illness. "Nobody has an answer to that," he said. "There is nothing that proves that it is linked, but you cannot exclude it, either. In principle, it's not, because then all cyclists would have cancer! When I got ill, I spoke to the doctors about it, and it made them smile. Taking into account the doses, they think it is not linked. But is it an aggravating factor? Maybe."

A physically affected and fatigued Fignon was realistic about his situation. "I live from day to day. I hope the next treatment will work. Regardless of my good will and the strength of my battle, if they don't find the right medication, there will be a time where it will take me away. I don't want to die at 50 years old, but if it is incurable, what can I do about it? I love life, I love to laugh, travel, read, eat well like every Frenchman. I'm not afraid to die, I just don't want to!"

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