Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton lives life ‘joyfully’ and ‘faithfully’ after 3rd brain tumor diagnosis

April 18, 2024
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Former American figure skater Scott Hamilton dedicated his early life to his sport. 

He was rewarded with an incredible winning streak in the early 1980s that saw him win four consecutive U.S. titles and four consecutive world championships. He never lost between 1981 and 1984, and his hard work culminated in a gold medal performance at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Scott Hamilton podium

From left to right, Brian Orser, Scott Hamilton and Jozef Sabovcík in the Men’s figure skating medal ceremony at the 1984 Winter Olympics / XIV Olympic Winter Games at Zetra Ice Hall in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Heinz Kluetmeier /Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Howerver, Hamilton, now 65, has dedicated his post-Olympic life towards a new goal – funding cancer research with the hope of giving people the chance at “a second life,” an opportunity he was given many times over. 

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Hamilton opened up about his personal battles with cancer and how his mother’s death at just 18 shaped his mindset early on in an interview with Fox News Digital.

“I was given a chance to skate, and I had to figure out how to do it at a high level,” Hamilton said. “My parents ran out of money and somebody stepped in to help me. And so that model of generosity was set in stone. And then I lost my mother to cancer, and I had to wake up and put my big boy pants on, and honor her in everything I did. And that allowed for a winning streak that I never, ever could have imagined.”

Hamilton, who was adopted, said that his mother’s death from metastatic melanoma drastically altered his thinking and ultimately opened the door to what would become his life’s work.

“I decided that there was nothing I could do to bring her back, but I became a fundraiser that morning, and then 20 years later – and we did a lot of fundraising in those 20 years – but 20 years later, having won an Olympic gold medal and having been on ‘Stars on Ice’ and building that into a pretty major tour, I was diagnosed with cancer almost two months shy of the 20th anniversary of losing my mom. 

“And it was there that I went from fundraiser to activist because I realized that there needs to be a better way of not only treating cancer, but also preparing a patient for the journey. I was not prepared. I was blindsided, like most people are. And so I needed to figure out a way to not only give people the information they needed, but the support they needed.”

Scott Hamilton competes

Figure skater Scott Hamilton of the United States competes in the figure skating competition in the XIV Olympic Winter Games circa 1984 at the Asim Ferhatovic Stadium in Sarajevo, Bosnia. ( Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

US ICE SKATING LEGEND SCOTT HAMILTON REVEALS HE’S AVOIDING SURGERY FOR 3RD BRAIN TUMOR

Plagued with health issues at a young age, Hamilton would be met with his biggest challenge yet when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1997. Seven years later, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was treated, but it returned in 2010, and he later dealt with complications from the surgery. 

In 2016, he was again diagnosed with a brain tumor, but his approach had changed. He was not going to seek treatment in the traditional sense.

“There’s just something in me that just says ‘get strong,’” Hamilton recalled thinking when learning of the news from his doctors. “And I was so confused because I didn’t know where it was coming from. And it was just overwhelming in my spirit ‘Just get strong.'” 

Hamilton, who is a believer in both western and holistic medicine, has poured himself into living a healthier life in all respects, including his faith. With that approach, the tumor shrank. The former Olympian told Fox News Digital that he cautions cancer patients to seek the best advice and educate themselves – something that the Scott Hamilton CARES foundation works at diligently. 

Scott Hamilton during an Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends to Benefit Scott Hamilton Cares Foundation at Music City Center on Nov. 20, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images  for Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation)

“If I become symptomatic, of course, I’m going to be responsible and not stupid or prideful, and I’m going to do what I can to get rid of it. But in the meantime, I’m living my life, and I’m living it joyfully, productively, faithfully.”

Hamilton founded his foundation in 2014. He continues to work toward funding cancer research that prioritizes patient care. 

“Now it’s all about funding immunotherapy and targeted therapy research to treat the cancer and spare the patient harm. … When we put our stake in the ground for immunotherapy, that was three years before the first immunotherapy drug came out. So we know we were right. And, now it just comes down to really finding the right research to fund and making sure that anybody that’s diagnosed with cancer has a chance at a second life, like I had a second life.” 

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Hamilton’s charitable efforts and work in cancer research recently have not gone unnoticed. Last month, at the Gold Meets Golden event, he was awarded the Gold Legacy Award. 

“It’s really a cool thing to be able to celebrate the excellence that comes from Olympic sport and to see what athletes do with their lives post podium,” he said Thursday. “For me, someone gave me the line of ‘turning a podium into a platform’ and it just allowed me to be able to be more impactful. That Olympic moment allowed me in to more doors [that] were open to me to be able to build and grow, sort of impact in the cancer community. And, I guess there’s some, some level of credibility that comes with winning a gold medal, where you can leverage that into the next.” 

Scott Hamilton award

Scott Hamilton at the 11th Annual Gold Meets Golden 2024(K) Celebration held at the Résidence de France on March 9, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (J C Olivera/Variety via Getty Images)

In February, Hamilton celebrated the 40th anniversary of his gold medal performance. Despite the ups and downs, Hamilton maintains a positive outlook on his life, his achievements, and what the future holds. 

“It feels like for every single moment, good or bad, to be considered an opportunity – that’s kind of where I’m really most grateful. Yeah, cancer wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. But it was an opportunity for me to step into the cancer community, not just as a fundraiser, but as a survivor now who understands what it feels like to go through cancer, understands what chemotherapy is, understands what post-surgical issues are.”

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