In a month, Scott Hamilton will learn whether the tumor lurking in his brain has grown, or whether the “little critter” – as the ice skater wryly calls it — is “behaving itself.” Waiting for such news could easily keep a guy up at night, but for the Olympic champ it’s almost an afterthought.
After all, between preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics broadcast, getting ready for a book launch (his third book, Finish First: Winning Changes Everything, is out Feb. 6) and organizing an annual cancer benefit in Nashville this month, “I’ve got too much to do every day to worry,” the gold medalist tells PEOPLE.
When doctors discovered the benign pituitary brain tumor in August 2016 — the skater’s third benign tumor since 2004 — Hamilton vowed “to be physically, spiritually and mentally stronger than I’ve ever been in my life,” he told PEOPLE. The skater gave up soda and sugar and, as he has in the past, leaned heavily on the support of wife Tracie and his Christian faith. Six months later, he was shocked to learn that the tumor had shrunk. “I’ve said to so many doctors, ‘Have you ever heard of a craniopharyngioma shrinking without treatment?’ They go, ‘No.’ I go, ‘Ta-da!’ God is good,” he says.
Hamilton is well-acquainted with health scares — as a kid he was in and out of hospitals and he beat testicular cancer in 1997 — so when he goes back for his next scan in December, “it will be fine no matter what it shows,” he says. “I’m just trying to stay in my lane and do good things, and take advantage of the time that I have.”
That includes playing the part of “professor emeritus” of skating during the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Korea, beginning Feb. 9. “I guess they thought I was too pretty to put on headsets, so I’m going to be in the studio more,” Hamilton jokes of his role on the NBC broadcast.
But before that, he’ll play host once again to a passion project: raising money for his CARES Foundation cancer charity through the Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends ice show and concert in Nashville on Nov. 19 (tickets can be purchased here). It’s the 18th year Hamilton has organized the event, which originated in Cleveland and expanded last year to include a show in Nashville. He dreamt up the benefit after his own bout with cancer, and it was also a way of honoring his mother, who died of the disease in 1977.
The event, which combines live music from artists such as Hamilton’s pal (and fellow cancer survivor) Sheryl Crow, Darius Rucker and Chris Young, with skating performances by the likes of gold medalist (and Dancing With the Stars mirror ball trophy winner) Meryl Davis, Kurt Browning, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Ryan Bradley, also happens to be “unbelievably awesome,” Hamilton says. “It’s sensory overload.” Even the musicians have a hard time taking their eyes off the ice, he says: “At the Cleveland show, we had Peter Cetera singing and his keyboard player said that when Ryan did a backflip, he stopped playing for a second and was just like, ‘Whoa!’ The show is something truly spectacular and magnificent.”
Hamilton himself, however, will stick to emceeing the event. Even though he’s feeling healthy and still loves the ice, at 59, he says, his performing days as a skater are over: “I basically milked that cow dry,” he jokes. “There’s no more milk left in the cow!”