Scott Hamilton's Battle with Cancer
When Scott Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer, his faith never weakened—especially when he thought of his mother and her battle.
Then Mom got sick. Doctors found a lump in her breast. When Dad brought her home and they told us the diagnosis, I could see in her eyes that she was scared. But her voice was firm. “I’m going to beat this. Don’t worry,” she said. I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school.
Me, I would have been a quivering mess. But Mom was so positive. She acted like cancer, chemo and surgery were opportunities to finally do all the things she’d wanted to do. When chemo made her hair fall out, she happily got wigs. “It was such a pain to have my hair done all the time,” she said. The chemo also killed her appetite. She lost weight and showed off her new figure to her friends, telling everyone how great she looked. But she never let a soul see her pain.
Vibrant orange journal with a keepsake pocket in the back features a hope-ism inspired by Proverbs 3:13-14.
The last time she saw me compete was at the 1977 U.S. Senior Figure Skating Championships, my first year at the senior level. I went out and laid an egg—I dropped to ninth after the free skate, my strongest event. My new coach, Carlo Fassi, couldn’t get me to focus and work hard. I was more into hanging out with my friends. But that day when I looked to my mother in the grandstand, I could see the disappointment in her eyes.
The day Mom died I went for a long walk. I was angry and feeling sorry for myself. My prayers were all complaints: “God, why did you do this to me? I’m too young to lose my mother.” What was I going to do now? How could I go on?
But then I thought about how Mom dealt with her cancer. She never complained. She never gave up. Instead, she made the most of every minute God gave her. Wasn’t that a challenge I had to take up now?
The first thing after Mom’s funeral, my coach called to express his sympathy. “Carlo,” I said, “I want you to know that a different person is coming back to you to train. He is going to be totally dedicated to being the best he can be.”
Carlo was skeptical. But from then on, it was like Mom was still urging me on. I went to bed early. I ate properly. I didn’t waste a moment on the ice. There was no quit in me. I worked till I got things right. Four hours a day on compulsory figures. Two hours a day on my free skate. Weightlifting two or three times a week.
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By the time the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics rolled around, I was in the best shape of my life. I was ready. And when the competition was over, I stood atop the podium listening to our national anthem. My first thought during the ceremony was, Mom, without you, this would never have happened.
The Olympics opened doors. It made life as a professional skater possible, and I went at my pro career with the same intensity as my run-up to the Olympics. If I wasn’t working every week, I felt like I was letting Mom down. With my skating friends I launched a series of ice shows that played 70 cities a year. It was hugely successful.
Then, on tour in 1997, I felt a pain in my abdomen. I pushed my belly button and it changed shape a little bit. It had this odd feeling. I couldn’t describe it.
All I knew was it didn’t feel normal. My stamina slipped. I told myself that it was an ulcer. Or maybe I was just burned out. At the end of the tour I’d get it checked out. But the pain got worse. One afternoon in Peoria, Illinois, I couldn’t straighten up. A few hours before the show that night, I went to the emergency room. The doctor asked me a ton of questions and ran a battery of tests. Then he sat me down. “We’ve found a mass,” he said. “You need to take care of this right away.”