Olympic Skater Scott Hamilton Facing Third Brain Tumor Diagnosis: 'I Choose to Celebrate Life'
Scott Hamilton is facing another health scare.
Earlier this year, the Olympic figure skater received a brain tumor diagnosis for what will be the third time. The diagnosis — a benign pituitary tumor — comes after Hamilton, 58, overcame testicular cancer in 1997 and battled two previous brain tumors in 2004 and 2010.
“I have a unique hobby of collecting life-threatening illness,” the Stars on Ice cofounder tells PEOPLE exclusively. “It’s six years later, and it decided that it wanted an encore.”
Hamilton learned of the tumor at a routine check-up and is currently exploring all his treatment options before symptoms begin presenting.
“I’ll tell anybody that will listen: If you’re ever facing anything, get as many opinions as you possibly can,” he says. “The more you truly understand what you’re up against, the better decision you’re going to make.”
Since being diagnosed, Hamilton has stayed strong for his wife Tracie, 46, and his four kids: biological sons Aidan, 13, and Maxx, 8; and Jean Paul, 15, and Evelyne, 13, whom they adopted from Haiti in 2014.
“When this one came back, six years ago, I told Tracie — she was devastated. This time, I go, ‘Well, here we go again.’ She’s like, ‘Really, it’s back? … Okay, we’ll just deal with it.’ And that was it,” says Hamilton. “My 12-year-old son … came to me, and he said, ‘Is your brain tumor back?’ And I go, ‘Yeah, it is! And here we go again.’ So I set the tone.”
As he consults with specialists around the country, Hamilton is hopeful and relying on his Christian faith.
“I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest imagination; I would never even think to dream the stuff that I’ve been able to do,” he says. “Last round, in 2010, I told Tracie, ‘God doesn’t owe me a day. I’m good. Whatever’s next is next.’ The blessings keep coming because we allow them and we ask for them.”
In addition to sharing his harrowing health journey over the years, Hamilton — who lost his mother to cancer — has inspired thousands with his motivational speaking engagements and pushed for cancer research, education and survivorship with this Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation.
“I choose to truly — in everything that we do — celebrate life,” says Hamilton. ”
I take my mother with me wherever I go. I lost her almost 40 years ago, and she’s with me all the time. Yes, I mourn her, but I mourn her in a way that I’m inspired to make a difference so the next 18-year-old kid doesn’t have to feel that devastation of losing their mother. And that’s what keeps me going.”
And though his latest diagnosis is looming, Hamilton is still making a positive impact: On November 20, the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation will host its Nashville Ice Show, where music greats (Sheryl Crow) and figure skating legends (Brian Boitano) will join forces to raise money to fight cancer. (Click here for more information.)
“The first thing I teach skaters at my skating academy is how to get up — because we’re going to fall,” Hamilton says. “And that’s how I live my life: I’m going to fall down, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to do all kinds of things that I’m going to wish didn’t happen. But it’s what’s next — it’s how you get up … The more times you get up, the stronger you are to face the next thing, which will happen — because that’s life.”