Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton Says His First Brain Tumor ‘Ignited My Faith’

The figure skating legend, 65, opened up about overcoming cancer and living with a benign brain tumor by relying on his faith

<p>Chris Millard/Warner Bros.</p> Scott Hamilton on <em>The Jennifer Hudson Show</em>

Chris Millard/Warner Bros.

Scott Hamilton on The Jennifer Hudson Show

Scott Hamilton has faced a myriad of health challenges in his life, from cancer to multiple brain tumors, but he credits his faith for getting him through the toughest moments.

The 65-year-old Olympic gold medalist stopped by The Jennifer Hudson Show on April 18 and reflected on having three brain tumors, sharing that he’s leaned heavily on his faith over the nearly three decades since he was first diagnosed with cancer.

Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1997, and told Jennifer Hudson of that first hurdle, “I really just wanted to survive, you know?”

He successfully recovered after surgery and chemotherapy, but went on to face three benign pituitary tumors in 2004, 2010 and 2016, and told Hudson, 42, of the beginning of his tumultuous health journey: “It just ignited my faith. It just was one of those things – I told my wife, without skipping a beat, she just took my hands and started to pray.”

“And it was the most powerful… I’ve had a lot of big moments, that was probably the biggest,” he said.

Related: Scott Hamilton's Amazing Ups and Challenging Downs, in Photos

Hamilton then detailed the initial biopsy doctors took of the tumor, which revealed he “was born with it,” which he called “really wild.”

“And then six years later it came back, and there was a surgery that didn’t go quite as planned, which turned into nine surgeries,” he continued. “And then six years later – there’s a pattern emerging here – I came back again and this time I just felt… They’re giving me a surgical option and a medical option and I was like, all I felt in the back of my head was: Get strong. That was it. Just get strong."

When asked by his medical team if he wanted to undergo surgery or use medicine to treat the tumor, Hamilton instead said, “'I’m gonna go home and I’m gonna get strong.’ And they go, ‘What does that look like?’ and I said, ‘I have no idea. I’m just feeling this.’ ”

<p>Chris Millard/Warner Bros.</p> Scott Hamilton on <em>The Jennifer Hudson Show</em>

Chris Millard/Warner Bros.

Scott Hamilton on The Jennifer Hudson Show

Related: Scott Hamilton Sold Almost Everything in His Home — but Saved a Few Things for His Charity Auction (Exclusive)

The tumor went on to shrink by “45%” without treatment, and he recalled a particularly powerful conversation with his doctor after learning that news.

“I said to the surgeon, I go, ‘Can you explain that?’ And he goes, ‘God.’ I go, ‘Good enough for me.’ ”

At the time, Hamilton told PEOPLE, “The nature of them is to grow, and without treatment, they have no reason to shrink. So I was the recipient of a spectacular miracle.”

Hudson admitted that the story was giving her “chills.”

“This is a walking testimony,” she said.

Hamilton said of his decision not to seek treatment, “I’ve never been stronger in my faith, I’ve never been stronger emotionally or intellectually.”

<p>Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty</p> Scott Hamilton in 1980

Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Scott Hamilton in 1980

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In February, the ice skating legend, who won a gold medal in figure skating at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, told PEOPLE he was “just answering my spirit” in choosing not to seek treatment.

However, since the tumor shrunk, it went on to grow again.

"And then COVID hit and going into any kind of hospital situation was almost impossible. So 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,” he shared.

While Hamilton continues to opt not to treat the tumor that doesn’t mean he won’t change his mind in the future — if and when that’s needed.

"The ace I have up my sleeve is that now there is a targeted radiation therapy that will shrink the tumor," he said. "And in that, I can avoid a lot of other things like surgery and chemo ... I'm mostly trying to be in the moment and taking all the information and do the right thing when the time comes."

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