Well, the first priority is my kids. My son is six and my twin girls are four. It's a critical time in their lives, a fun time. They're doing all kinds of fun and crazy things: learning to ride their bikes with no training wheels, learning to tie their shoes. So you get to witness all that stuff. Whereas before I was in a divorce situation. I would go to Europe for two or three months, and the kids would stay home with Mom in Austin. Terrible. I would just hear about these things. So now, being at home with them is just amazing. My second priority is cancer. For me it's a competitive thing. It's a bigger competition than any Tour ever was.
As a competition, what is it that the Lance Armstrong Foundation is trying to accomplish with cancer?
Well, we can definitely increase awareness. Just by me getting out and talking about it increases awareness. Unfortunately, it's bad news – whether it's Peter Jennings, Dana Reeve, Sheryl Crow, Ann Richards, or anyone who makes the news with regard to cancer – that brings awareness to the disease. But the news comes and goes so quickly. In less than a month you had Sheryl and Ann Richards diagnosed, and the death of Dana. And everyone said, "Oh, my God, we're all going to get cancer." And, boom, a week later it's gone. So I can get out and keep it in the spotlight.
Is the eradication of cancer the goal, or the diminution of it, or what?
Or the funding. We have to work on the process. The process is broken in this country. I think, on an overall basis, that cancer is not a priority, and it's huge. As our population gets older and older it will be the number one killer. The odds are startling. One out of two men, one out of three women. Yet at the same time, without being political, we spent more in Iraq in seven months than we spent on the war against cancer in 35 years. That to me is completely unacceptable.
I have to ask: Do you stay in touch with Sheryl?
A bit. Not much. That's a hard one, having been in a relationship for so long and then breaking up three weeks before the diagnosis. When you break up you don't keep in touch, and then something like this just naturally pulls you together. It's hard, terrible.
You must have been stunned by the news.
Oh, my God. February 20. I'll never forget.
Did she call, or did you read about it?
She pinged me on my BlackBerry.
Isn't it going to be hard for you to have personal relationships from this time forward, because they're always going to be in the gossip pages?
Last week I was in L.A. at a few parties, and people just wanted their picture taken. I have to avoid those situations. I mean, first and foremost out of respect for Sheryl, that just doesn't need to happen. 'Cause I still love her. I'm still her biggest fan. She's sick but doing very well. That doesn't need to be talked about.
Ever just want to go away and hide?
Yeah. I'm never alone. A few weeks ago, actually, right after Sheryl's diagnosis, when everything was taken care of, I took a road trip up to Northern California all alone. Five days. Drove all the way from San Francisco to the Oregon border.
Yeah, by myself. Rental car. Couple of books. No agenda. No plan. Found hotels or inns or B&Bs along the way.
People must have been stunned when you walked in.
[Laughs] Yeah, they were pretty amazed. They were like, "What are you doing here?" I was like, "Just taking a cruise." I'd never done it. I was scared, but it was amazing.
Scared because you had been surrounded by an entourage most of your life?
Yeah. I had never been all alone.
Did you learn anything about yourself on that trip?
It wasn't as productive as I had wanted, because of Sheryl's situation. My intention was to have no computer, no phone, no BlackBerry. But I ended up having to have that stuff because I wanted to make myself available so we could talk during that time.