Olympic Figure Skater Maia Shibutani Reveals the Tumor She Had Removed Was Cancerous
"The tumor that was successfully removed on Saturday was unfortunately malignant," the two-time Olympian wrote on Instagram on Friday
“I got my pathology report back – the tumor that was successfully removed on Saturday was unfortunately malignant (cancer). (SDH)-deficient renal cell carcinoma,” the Olympian wrote on Instagram on Friday, alongside a photo of a bouquet of flowers. She previously said that doctors put the odds at the mass being malignant at 60/40.
“This wasn’t the news I was hoping for, but I am beyond thankful that it was detected early and that my surgery went well,” she continued, sharing that “no further treatment is required at this time.”
“The next steps are for me to continue focusing on recovering and healing,” she said. “All of the positive thoughts and support mean so much to me. My heart is so full. Thank you. ❤️”
Maia, 25, who makes up one half of the the skating duo known fondly as the “Shib Sibs” with her brother Alex Shibutani, sent shockwaves throughout the figure skating community on Monday when she shared the “deeply personal news” of her tumor, which she said she did to avoid the spread of rumors.
The tumor was first spotted by doctors after the two-time Olympian visited the emergency room in October for a stomach virus.
After sharing the news of her unexpected medical issues on Monday, Shibutani gave another update on Tuesday, saying that she had been discharged on Monday afternoon after an extra night at the hospital, but that the post-surgery pain has been “worse” than she anticipated.
“I’ve had my fair share of injuries in skating and I’m used to muscle and bone stuff, but this is different. It was explained to me that since I am young and in good shape, my muscles and nerves are really sensitive. Walking and making even smaller body movements is currently very painful and extremely challenging,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself and Alex, 28, walking with her down a hospital hallway.
“It’s been tough to not feel discouraged and weak, but focusing on gratitude has really helped,” she continued. “My parents are with me and Alex was able to support me through those difficult first steps. I’m grateful for all of the messages of encouragement – I feel very cared for and supported.”
The athlete added that she is “determined to come back stronger.”
Maia and Alex took home a bronze medal in 2018’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and helped Team USA clinch the third-medal spot with a paired free dance.