Scott Hamilton - Overcoming Another Obstacle
Overcoming Another Obstacle
But Hamilton's life would change in 1997. Coming off a performance with his Discover Stars on Ice company, the athlete experienced severe shooting pain in his lower back and abdomen, which he attributed to an ulcer. Doctors discovered a malignant tumor—but even in the face of this diagnosis, Hamilton went on to perform that night. Later it was determined that Hamilton had contracted testicular cancer, a disease that strikes thousands of American men each year. "In the tightly knit world of skaters," wrote a contributor to People, "the news was devastating."
His peers rallied in support of Hamilton through the skater's chemotherapy treatment. "He's always been our big brother, someone to turn to," skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi explained in the People piece. The chemotherapy reduced the tumor to manageable size; in June 1997 surgery removed it along with Hamilton's right testicle. Then, characteristically, he returned to the ice with his typical showmanship plus a new direction in life. Hamilton became an advocate for cancer awareness, particularly among men. "It's all about awareness," he said in a January 2001 online chat transcribed by ABCNews.com. "The more it is discussed, the more you feel like [testicular] cancer is prevalent. The earlier you detect a problem, the better off you are. In any form of cancer—not just this kind."
After pronouncing himself "not 100 [percent] yet, but I will be" in 2001, Hamilton devoted 2002 to personal and professional causes. He had already founded the Scott Hamilton Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship (CARES) at the Cleveland [Ohio] Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, where he was treated. In 2002, the skater then launched the web site chemocare.com to help cancer patients understand chemotherapy treatment and its side effects. In December 2002, Hamilton married Tracie Robinson in Malibu, California.
In a 1983 Sports Illustrated article, Bob Ottum summed up Hamilton's appeal. "Where other male and female skaters specialize," he wrote, "Hamilton is the sport's only all-around performer, equally good at athleticism and artistry. Even better, he doesn't look the part.… He looks as if you could hold him up to a strong light and see right through him. But that, too, is pure deception. Somewhere inside him are several miles of tightly drawn sinew and a startling sense of dedication."