Retired Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton has wowed America over the years with his graceful performances on the rink, but even more noteworthy is his perseverance through hardship. Hamilton won four consecutive U.S. Championships and World Championships from 1981 to 1984, along with winning the gold in the 1984 Olympics…but just as frequent as his triumphs have been his trials.
The 58-year-old battled testicular cancer in 1997 as well as two brain tumors in 2004 and 2010. Last summer, he received the devastating news that his brain tumor was back for a third time.
“I have a unique hobby of collecting life-threatening illness,” the former Olympian told PEOPLE. “It’s six years later, and it decided that it wanted an encore.”
Though Hamilton admits his initial reaction was that ‘this was simply not fair,’ he’s learned to come to terms with his condition by responding with gratitude instead of bitterness.
“I survived cancer in 1997. Seven years later, I was diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor. First thing is, ‘Okay, that’s not fair.’ Alright, I’ve had cancer—I get a pass for a while,” joked Hamilton in his exclusive interview with PEOPLE.
Now, just nine months since his third diagnosis, the co-founder of Stars on Ice says he’s been the recipient of a “spectacular miracle.”
In February, doctors told Scott that the tumor had shrunk on its own, without any treatment, and they no longer needed to operate on it.
“The nature of them is to grow, and without treatment, they have no reason to shrink,” Hamilton told People. “So I was the recipient of a spectacular miracle. I’m keeping an eye on it, and there’s no treatment needed at this time.”
Baffled that he no longer needed to have surgery, Scott asked the surgeon if he could offer up any explanation.
“I go, ‘Can you explain this?’” Scott recalls. “He just smiled and looked at me and goes, ‘God.’ That’s it.”
The response left him drowning in emotion:
“Whoa. I was just a blubbering mess, like, ‘I’m not worthy of this.’ There’s so many other people out there who could benefit from this miracle.”
Scott explained how his wife, Tracie’s, prayerful response to his initial cancer diagnosis has encouraged him to reorient his perspective.
“When I told my wife, the first thing she did without even a beat of emotion or anything else, she just grabbed both of my hands and she started to pray,” he said. “And it was powerful. I mean it changed everything for me because I realized where you go when you’re truly up against it.”
He says his health battles have taught him the value of learning to get back up after the fall. In fact, that’s the very first thing he teaches his students.
“The more times you get up, the stronger you are to face the next thing, which will happen because that’s life,” says Hamilton.
As for keeping an eye on that feisty tumor, Scott lives without fear of the future.
“I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest imagination; I would never even think to dream the stuff that I’ve been able to do,” he said. “Last round, in 2010, I told Tracie, ‘God doesn’t owe me a day. I’m good. Whatever’s next is next.’ The blessings keep coming because we allow them and we ask for them.”
Scott Hamilton on being diagnosed with a brain tumor for the third time, and how he perseveres by always moving forward. http://peoplem.ag/zcbIl8i
Posted by People on Friday, October 21, 2016