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After Overcoming Obstacles, Olympic Gold Medalist Becomes a Figure of Hope

This week on Full Disclosure, host Roben Farzad sits down with Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton who has been fighting the odds ever since he was adopted as a newborn. Hamilton spent his youth in and out of the hospital due to a congenital brain tumor. Now in his 60s, after beating cancer, he is an author, businessman, advocate and philanthropist who has dedicated his life to helping those struggling with illness and loss.

Episode excerpt

The following excerpt was edited for clarity.


Roben Farzad: Scott I remember in 1997, you had that diagnosis of testicular cancer. You've since persevered through several brain tumors, and you're here talking to us in 2020.

Scott Hamilton: Yeah, it's kind of surreal actually. Looking back on so many years, I've got the gift of age, which is kind of ironic due to my hobby of collecting life threatening illness. It just seems like it was four versions of me ago. So it's really great to just be able to look back on troubled times [and see] that I was able to rise above. And then when the next thing comes, it's almost like you dread having to go through anything else, but you know, you can do it.

Farzad: But you've been through so much. I mean, you were adopted as an infant in Ohio, and I just remember reading that you had an illness that stunted your growth. When you were small, there were several tests and the doctor gave you a pretty dire diagnosis. So you kind of started with a hand tied behind your back. You went on into an amateur career weighing, what was it? 108 pounds?

Hamilton: Well, I was 108 at the Olympics in 1980. It's funny because everybody's lives present their own levels of challenge and complication and everything else. I think that for me, all of that was ultimately for my good. I'm kind of one of these disgusting, sickening optimists. I can turn harsh, difficult circumstances into positive things. When I look back at all those nights I spent in the hospital between the ages of four and eight. A lot of times I was by myself and it's unnatural for kids that age to be by themselves like that away from their mom and dad. Children's hospitals now are much different than they were back then, back then it was in a very sterile environment, your bed with the chair in the corner of the room. Now there are day beds, they've got all the comforts of home and it wasn't that way back then. So my mom would try to spend every night she could in the hospital with me, but then there were many, many nights where she couldn't be there. But the optimistic side of me says that all those nights alone truly taught me how to be independent from a very young age. So now when I'm stepping onto the ice at a championship and I'm alone, that was a muscle that I built very early in my age to be able to deal with that. Each of them presented their own sets of circumstances. But, in that regard, being independent from a very young age and learning how to stand up to things really allowed me to be successful in those moments where I truly had to rely on myself.




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