Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton Defends Decision To Not Treat 3rd Brain Tumor

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Former Olympic skater Scott Hamilton is a warrior on and off of the ice

In 1984, Scott Hamilton made the United States proud when he took home the gold medal in men’s figure skating at the Sarajevo Olympics. The 65-year-old has been awarded various skating honors and in 1990, was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. After his Olympic career, the talented skater was forced to shift his focus from fighting for medals to fighting for his health.

Scott Hamilton triumphed over testicular cancer in 1997

At the age of 39, Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which he successfully fought – and overcame – with surgery and chemotherapy. Despite the illness, he made a return to skating and toured with Stars on Ice (formerly named Scott Hamilton’s American Tour) which he co-founded and co-produced.

Scott Hamilton has been battling brain cancer for two decades

In 2004, Hamilton received the terrifying news that he had a cancerous tumor on the pituitary gland in his brain. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor, which was successful at the time, but the mass returned just six years later.

The second round of treatment proved to be extremely challenging when an artery in his brain was nicked during surgery, resulting in nine remedial surgeries. This experience caused Hamilton to take a different course of action when the tumor returned for a third time in 2016.

Scott Hamilton will not treat his brain tumor unless he becomes symptomatic

In a new interview with PEOPLE, Hamilton recalls receiving the all-too-familiar diagnosis in 2016 and a young, talented surgeon telling him that the surgery would be complicated, but that is was an option if he wanted to go that route. He shares:

“All I felt was just, don’t worry about this. Just go home and get strong. They go, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I think I’m going to go home and get strong.’ I was just answering my spirit.”

Hamilton says that the months following were “remarkable.” At his first few follow up appointments, the tumor had shrunk on its own without treatment. However, things did not continue on that trajectory. Eventually, the tumor began to grow again. Despite this, the olympian says he feels a sense of peace.

“In my spirit, in my inner being, I realized, I’m totally at peace with not even looking at it again unless I become symptomatic.”

Ultimately, Hamilton says he will reconsider treatment down the road, if it becomes absolutely necessary.

“The ace I have up my sleeve is that now there is a targeted radiation therapy that will shrink the tumor. And in that, I can avoid a lot of other things like surgery and chemo. So I don’t know, I’m mostly trying to be in the moment and taking all the information and do the right thing when the time comes.”

Sending prayers and well wishes to Scott Hamilton on his cancer journey!