Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton jokes that he is known more for his health battles than his figure skating.
Maybe that’s a stretch, but he has a point. Since winning four consecutive U.S. figure skating championships between 1981 and 1984 and taking gold at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, cancer, not competition, has been where he has made the greatest impact.
Hamilton was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer in 1997. That battle, his mother’s 2-year cancer battle before that and his childhood struggles even before that all make Hamilton’s story inspiring.
On Saturday, Hamilton is telling his story to a room full of cancer survivors. He’s the keynote speaker at A Time To Heal Cancer Foundation’s Art of Living Beyond Cancer conference at Aksarben’s Scott Conference Center.
There, he’ll spread a message to “make every moment count” after a cancer diagnosis.
“You would have never thought yourself to be that strong or that tough or that powerful until that moment when your back is against the wall,” he said Friday. “I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, but without that awakening, you don’t really know what you’re capable of doing, you don’t know who you are.”
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Hamilton has been a longtime advocate for cancer survivors and their supporters. His Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship) helps fund research into less-toxic treatments for cancer. His website, chemocare.com, helps survivors get information about cancer in layman’s terms.
“When I was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer, I looked it up on the Internet, and at the time all there was were medical journal papers with 12-syllable words,” he said. “I said, ‘I’m not smart enough to be sick.’ I realized there was so much missing on how to arm patients with education and a true understanding of what they’re going to endure.”
Hamilton will speak to more than 200 survivors and supporters during Saturday’s conference, which also includes breakout sessions. Last-minute registration for the conference can be obtained by calling 402-401-6083.
“It’s amazing to think about what he has been able to overcome in his life,” said Rebecca Vinton, executive director of A Time To Heal. “What better way to throw a good party than bring someone who also likes to have fun.”
Hamilton also spoke Friday to a group of donors and supporting organizations, offering a keynote about overcoming personal limitations titled “How the Short Person Can Rise Above Their Expectations.”
Before going on stage, he said he hoped the speech to the crowd of about 350 people would help “raise a boatload of money.”