LAS VEGAS-Lance Armstrong on Sunday challenged members of the shopping-center industry to fight the battle that he has taken on now for more than 10 years – the battle against cancer. The seven-time Tour De France-winning cyclist and cancer survivor was the opening speaker today at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ 50th annual Spring Convention.

“You have the ability to shape and form public opinion and really affect change,” he says. “You do have a powerful position in our community.”

Armstrong’s well-documented fight against cancer began in 1996 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and given a 50% chance to live. “This was the day that my life shifted forever,” he says.

The fight for him began in earnest just after surgery. He recalls his trainer asking him after the procedure how we has doing. “I’m doing great,” he remembers saying. “This is as bad as it gets. This is the lowest point of my life. It’s only going to get better.”

Of course, he did get better and went to win competitive cycling’s marquee event more times than anyone in history. He also started the Lance Armstrong Foundation to fight cancer, best identified by the yellow “Livestrong” bracelets that have been purchased by 65 million people worldwide.

Retired from cycling, Armstrong now urges people to fight cancer through legislation and especially concentrate on helping people with the disease who can’t afford to pay for health care. “We don’t need to fail morally and ethically by not applying what we know to other people who need it the most,” he says.

This year’s ICSC Spring Convention is expected to have a record attendance of just over 50,000 people. The event has doubled in size this year, taking up the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, at two-million sf. Additionally, for the first time the show is having an entire area of the trade show devoted to green building and sustainability issues.