Scott Hamilton and figure skating are synonymous. Between his gold medal performances and his ability as an announcer to make watching more exciting and understandable, the name and the sport are as linked as salt and pepper.
But this wonderful man is so much more. He’s a devoted husband and father, an inspiring public speaker, and a generous philanthropist. He’s also a cancer survivor, and the 2015 SURVIVORville Honorary Chair.
We chatted with Scott recently about “living the NOU life.” His words inspired us – we’re certain they’ll do the same for you!
Tell us a NOU way you do an old thing post-cancer.
Working out jumps to mind first. My goals are vastly different now than during my pre-cancer life. I used to work out for skating in a ballistic manner. My body seemed to be built to take that kind of punishment.
I can’t do that now. It’s harder to manage my general fitness level now as I’m not burning through thousands of calories. No more late night pizza, either! Of course, that’s true as you get older anyway. (We both had a few chuckles here!) Now I’m much more intentional about how and when I work out. And my eating habits have changed as well. I usually have a big lunch but rarely eat a full dinner. I opt for something smaller.
What’s the best part of the NOU you?
My life is full and my family is always first. I have such a dynamic and compassionate wife. I’m so proud of her work for Haiti, one of her passions.
For me, certainly building the CARES (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship) Foundation. It’s a giant commitment I began as a thank you to the Cleveland Clinic for saving my life.
Beneath the umbrella is chemocare.com which came out of my own need. I wanted to find answers about testicular cancer and treatment but couldn’t. We created the site to answer every question anyone could ever have. I wanted something that would remove the isolation you feel as a cancer patient and survivor.
I felt I had three angels in place and needed the fourth. The Fourth Angel is a patient and caregiver mentoring program which is growing exponentially. I wanted CARES to fill the gaps in the cancer community, empowering survivors to be an active part in helping the next patient. I would have loved to find someone my age and stage who could have told me what I would be facing.
On the research end of things, you can’t get government funding for research unless you’ve been funded. With CARES, we’re hoping to fast track that process and we’re on a never ending search for the next great research project.
And then I wanted to find ways to give back for all the sport of skating gave me. It’s on a slide in popularity, so I created a partnership with the city of Nashville and the Predators (Nashville’s NHL team) to start a skating academy in Antioch, TN. Twenty percent of the students are adults, but whole families come in to learn. I didn’t do it to train the next champions; I did it to share my love with the next generation of skaters.
Tell us the ways cancer created the NOU you.
Almost all of the survivors I’ve talked to agree: there’s something about that diagnosis. It’s an unbelievable, powerful event in your life. Right after the initial rush of fear and anxiety, something inside of you is awakened. It’s a champion, a warrior, a brave person you never would have believed lived inside of you.
Cancer is a really strange, odd blessing. It’s nothing you’d ever choose, but if you never had the opportunity to see the side of your character it awakens, you’d never know who you truly are.
I also don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. There are things that I just refuse to allow to bug me. I look for the good. Remember how fresh cut grass smelled when you were a kid. The grass after cancer smells a little bit sweeter, just like when you were young. Cancer reminds you of the journey and how much life is worth living.
You’ve done so much, we almost feel silly asking this last question. But we will anyway – Scott Hamilton, what’s your 2nd Act?
It’s a great question! The person I am today is truly the product of surviving cancer. I was living a life that I now see wasn’t really authentic to the person I was meant to be. I just didn’t know how to stop doing that.
Cancer made me realize, okay, now I get to start over. There were so many paths I was following that weren’t really the best way to go. The disease taught me that once you get through the surgery and treatment, and you begin taking the small steps to get 100% back to life, you realize you want to be doing it differently.
I look at my children and realize if I hadn’t had cancer, I wouldn’t have them or my wife or my faith. My heart would be a fraction of the size it is now. Most importantly, my life wouldn’t have nearly the same value to me as it has today.
Most importantly, without your cancer, we wouldn’t have all the fabulous programs you’ve created. On behalf of survivors everywhere, we give you a big purple hug!