Since last year, the Lance Armstrong Foundation has sold about 55 million of those yellow, rubber "LiveStrong" bracelets to raise awareness about (and, at a buck a pop, research money for) cancer. America is now deep into its personal "cancer journey," in which people with the disease and those who love them no longer need to feel lonely or marginalized. Thanks to Armstrong's star power, athletic achievement and inspiring demeanor, it is now possible to reach a kind of membership in a special club by having the disease or knowing someone who does. Which is not to say that people now revel in having cancer, or hope it comes into their lives. Not at all.
Unless they do. Victoria Gotti, star of a reality show and the occasional mob trial, "revealed," quite dramatically, that she has breast cancer. Under scrutiny, she later amended that to "breast disease," and then amended that to a case of "precancerous cells." It takes a certain gall to make up your own cancer journey and vow to "live strong," but to certain celebrities, there is no better route to publicity than sympathy.
Some of us have also sensed something egocentric in the conspicuous pride of even the nonfamous Livin' Strong braceleteers -- somehow it's not about cancer, but about showing the world how much they care. But that's delicate territory. So it's best to remain respectfully silent -- unlike yours truly, who went on ABC's "The View" in January to present The Post's annual list of what's in and what's out and who got booed by the audience when he suggested the charity bracelet thing was played out; to say nothing of the evil eye he got, on live television, from the show's host Star Jones Reynolds.
Last month, the state of New York cracked down on a supplier of bogus LiveStrong bracelets, who was ordered to pay almost $112,000 back to Armstrong's cause. "The sale of each counterfeit bracelet deprived the charity of money that could further [the foundation's] work," Attorney General Eliot Spitzer told the media. But the counterfeiters are also guilty of a crime against celebrity. These bracelets had (and still have, for some) the cachet of having been inspired by a hero, a superstar. They made the wearer feel Lancelike. Ultimately, that's a trend for which the passing of time is the only cure.