December 06, 2010 12:00 PM

Scott Hamilton was being wheeled out of surgery in a Boston Hospital when he woke up and heard his doctor’s sobering words: “I’m glad,” he said, “you’re still with us.” Surgeons had removed a benign brain tumor, but in the process an artery was nicked; days later the former Olympic skating champion was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.

Medical crises are nothing new for Hamilton, 52, who has overcome testicular cancer and a pituitary gland tumor. But faced this past June with the aneurysm, he wondered whether he would be around to raise sons Aidan, 7, and Maxx, 2, with his wife, Tracie. “I was always Mr. Optimism,” says Hamilton, “but I was knocked down.”

Five months later he’s back on his feet, making breakfast for the boys and driving Aidan to school. A noninvasive procedure at the Cleveland Clinic removed the aneurysm, but it came with a price: As part of a known risk of the surgery, he’s lost two-thirds of the vision in his right eye. Not one to sulk-“I have an excuse for my golf game”-he recently raised $1.1 million for cancer research at his Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative fund-raiser and vows he’ll get back on the ice. Says Tracie: “He’s cut from a different mold.”

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