Episode 12: Scott Hamilton on serial optimism and finding hope in life's challenges
Join us for an inspiring episode of the podcast with special guest, Scott Hamilton. Scott is a legendary figure skater, Olympic gold medalist, cancer survivor, and founder of the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. In this episode, Scott shares his remarkable life story - from a life altering diagnosis as a child to becoming an Olympic gold medalist, to then becoming a cancer survivor and turning into an activist. Scott also speaks about being a serial optimist, finding the silver lining in all things, and how we should live in the present as if it's the only time we have. Tune in for this powerful conversation between Scott and Joey.
Watch the Conversation
Joey Odom (00:00):
Hey everyone, it's Joey. Before we jump into the show, I wanna remind you of something. It is Mother's Day season. We're days and weeks away from Mother's Day. It's crunch time, but I got good news and I got messages for both dads and moms. So, to the dads out there, I spoke with your wife. She wants you to be more present with her and with the kids. She wants you to put down your phone and be fully engaged in the moment. She wants more closeness and intimacy. And the greatest thing you could give her is a membership to Aro, not for her to use, but for you to use. So you can put down your phone, disengage from work, and be fully present with her. And by the way, she wants you to initiate that and give her that, and tell her it's for her, so that you will be fully present with her moms.
We know you want your kids to have healthy relationship with their phones, and we know you want your husband to be closer with you, so it's your day. You can make all the rules. So tell your husband, this is what you want for Mother's Day. All I want is a membership to Aro. And both of you, dads and moms both, if you go to go ro.com, enter Mother's Day at checkout, and you get a free month on a prepaid, annual or a two-year membership to Aro. So just go to goaro.com, enter Mother's Day at checkout on a prepaid, annual, or a two-year membership, and you get a free month. Thanks so much. Hope you have a great Mother's Day, and please enjoy this week's episode of the Aro podcast.
Scott Hamilton (01:23):
And then 20 years later, I'm now a survivor and it's time for me to become more of an activist. You know, how do I change this for the better and forever? And, um, and it's, it's been an ongoing, you know, kind of quest mission, um, to not really just figure out where I could necess serve the cancer community to make sure 18 year old boy doesn't have to be as small.
Joey Odom (01:46):
Welcome back to the Aro Podcast. It's Joey Odom, co-founder of Aro. And guess what? I just made a new friend, a new friend who is a gold medal winner, and who's an author, and who's a speaker, and who's a cancer survivor, and who's an inspiration. It's Scott Hamilton. I love my conversation with Scott. His story is absolutely incredible. And we went into bits and pieces of it. We tried to go a little bit deeper on some of the things he's learned through his journey. You're going to love this. You're gonna want to hear more of 'em. There's plenty more out there on him. So, I'm so grateful for Scott taking the time out of his schedule to spend time with us and impart some wisdom. He has a couple of just absolutely dynamite quotes that you're gonna like. So sit back, relax, enjoy my conversation with Scott Hamilton.
So Scott Hamilton, you, you've told your story so many times, and I, I don't want this to just be another conversation. And so I've spent a bunch of time, it's been over the last week of digging into this Scott Hamilton wormhole of depth and everything. And, and so I've been looking for this other angle, a different angle, a different view on this incredible, incredible story. And so, with this different angle, I want to take us back to a familiar place, which is the tallest podium in Sarajevo in 1984. And the national anthem just finished playing. You have a gold medal around your neck. There are tears streaming down your face. And you said something that only the viewers at home can lip read. Do you know what you said? Do you remember what you said?
Scott Hamilton (03:27):
Hmm. I I, I, I, no, I, I wish I could just pull it up, but I, I, I know it's, I've seen it before and I, I recognize it, but I can't think of it right now.
Joey Odom (03:37):
I'm glad you can't because you said, I can't believe it's over.
Scott Hamilton (03:43):
Joey Odom (03:43):
And I've watched that many times over the last several days, and I have my own guess of that. I have this feeling, you, you've talked about your story, and it was this culmination of everything you worked for and the years leading up to it, and your mom looking down from heaven. And you've said about gold medalists that that moment crushed them.
Scott Hamilton (04:08):
Can it can, if you allow it, you know, it, it can totally, uh, you know, I had some pretty remarkable, uh, people come into my life, you know, post Olympics. You know, first thing that happened after the ceremony is, you know, we're all kind of backstage. And Doug Wilson, um, the director from ABC's one original wide world sports guys, he just said, I want you to know right now that your life will never be the same. And I was like, okay. I, I mean, I had no idea what he was talking about. So, on the way, on the way to Sarajevo, my coach and I, uh, we went to Paris for a few days to kind of do the time change and to kind of get all the, all that jet lag out of, you know, my legs. So that I, when I arrived in Sara Abo I could throw down the best impression possible and let everybody know I'm ready.
You know? So on the way there, we we're in Chicago, we're connecting in Chicago, and I was, you know, we got there early and there was a long layover, and I was reading a book, and I had an empty gate, and I lost track of time. And I, I, I looked up and I go, oh my goodness. I, I, there's no clock. So I asked a guy walking by, I go, excuse me, sir, what time is it? And he just looked at me like, leave me alone. And he kept walking. It's like, I'm on my way to the Olympics, represent the United States, represent this guy. Yeah. And he won't even gimme the time of day, right? So I go, okay, well, you know, so that was on my way to Cebo. So Doug Wilson says, oh, by the way, your life will never be the same. I go, okay, all right. Well, all right. Sure. And I got back, um, to Chicago. We, you know, we got kind of that connection in Chicago back to Denver. And I was actually stopping in Chicago for a few days to see some friends. And, and, uh, I went to baggage claim. And, um, I ran into a couple high school classes on their, on a school trip. And I spent about two hours signing autographs, <laugh>. And I was like, okay, that's way different than when I came here last
Joey Odom (06:02):
Time. Did they tell you what time it was, too? Yeah. They haven't shared the time with you. Yeah,
Scott Hamilton (06:06):
We lost track of time. Right. But it was like, it was kind of like, that was Stark. And then, yeah, I spent a day and a half in Chicago just visiting, you know, some, you know, my dearest friends. And then Bill Daniels, who was one of the original cable television guys who was one of the pioneers of cable television. He sent his private jet to pick me up in Chicago to fly me back to Denver. Okay. That's different. And then I arrived on the tarmac in Denver, and there was like, you know, people and presentations and press and media. And then they put me on a firetruck with all the, um, these, uh, football cheerleaders and all this other stuff. And then we drove through downtown Denver at, to a, a destination of Laer Square. Uh, which ironically I was, you know, in a month or two later I'd be living there, right?
So I'm an <inaudible> Square, and, and there was this Hollis music playing look up, and it's my friend Freddy Rodriguez who had a jazz band. We used to go to this jazz place all the time called Elbe in Denver. And he's on stage, probably played for the biggest crowd he's ever played for. There was stadium room, I mean, it was just the, the whole Larimer Square was just packed. It was like 5,000 people. And I'm like, okay, this is different <laugh>, you know? And then, and then they took me over to a comedy club, and they had the stage set up, and they did all these presentations and all these gifts and all these wonderful things. It's like, okay, that was different. And you know, the mayor's on stage talking about me at this rally, and then that governor's wife. And, and then something remarkable happened, um, I, I was called into the governor's office and I thought, you know, most, most of those that I've experienced before in the past have been like photo ops, you know, just sort of like, you know, I'm a political guy and here's me with this, you know, our, um, you know, new Olympic gold medalist, whatever, you know.
And I was like, okay, I'll go meet the governor. I'd be honored to meet the governor. So I walk into his office and I'm wearing a jacket and tie, and I honored the moment. And he, there was another gentleman in the office and he told him, you know, just, we'll catch up later. And then he walked out and it was just me and the governor, no cameras, no nothing, just me and the governor. We talked, we talked for a little while. And, um, his wife was at the big, you know, parade rally, and she was a cancer survivor, which really, you know, just Hmm. Inspired me cuz my mom lost her battle of cancer. Yeah. And so, um, we're talking and he goes, Hey, I just, you know, look, you seem like a really nice guy and my wife really enjoyed meeting you. And I just, I just feel like I feel the need to, you know, just sort of pour into you a little bit. And I go, sure. Anything. And he said, have you ever heard of the hometown hero syndrome? And I go, no, I, I don't know what that is. And he goes, well, it's basically the, the quarterback for the high school football team, you know, throws the big pass at the end of the game to win the state. And he's carried off the field on, on the team's shoulders. And I go, yeah. And he goes, well, the, the hometown hero syndrome is that quarterback expects the rest of his life to be just like that.
Joey Odom (09:08):
Scott Hamilton (09:08):
He goes, look, I want you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, but I want you to know that it's not gonna last forever. You seem like a really nice person. I just really wanted to, you know, give you some perspective that this is great, it's gonna be awesome and you're gonna enjoy it, but it's, your whole life isn't gonna be like this. And I, I just thanked him. I just thought it was really cool. Yeah. And the next thing that happened after that was, um, my orthopedic surgeon, um, asked if I would speak at the Paralympic banquet. All the Paralympians were coming back from Sara Abo. And I go, of course, I'd love to, I'd be honored. And I didn't really know what to expect, but I was absolutely crushed mm-hmm. <affirmative>, when I walked into the room thinking I'm all that <laugh>. And I see every description of human being.
You can imagine some without limbs, some blind, some deaf, some, you know, they all, everyone had some level of disability and they all had the same metal as me. Hmm. And I'm able bodied and I can't even imagine what their training regimen was, their obstacles overcome their, you know, just in that moment, you know, going down the hill on one leg or blind or what. And I just was like, I was so humbled in that moment that I thought I didn't, I didn't do anything. Hmm. You know, I just won another competition and Wow. And so from that, I just decided that the only thing left to do was build something new. And that was my professional career. And so, you know, I, it just, with fresh legs and a fresh perspective, I just put my head down and got to work.
Joey Odom (10:44):
So that, that, that's one in, because you, you're, you're so well recognized. I was laughing, imagining you trying to go out and buy eggs and you're just trying to go to the grid and then, but for the person who meets you, it's the one time to meet Scott Hamilton. So it's the truth.
Scott Hamilton (10:55):
No, yeah. I, I meet people all the time and it's fun. I really enjoy it. I, you know, I, you know, I joke, my, my, my line is I fly Southwest. I meet people every day and it's all good. And I, I really welcome interaction conversation cuz I realize that, you know, everybody has a really cool story to tell. Yeah. Everybody has a phenomenal, interesting, powerful story to tell. And, and why would I close myself off to that? Because Yeah. Because I feel like my story's more interesting than theirs. <laugh> <laugh>.
Joey Odom (11:25):
But, but that's
Scott Hamilton (11:26):
Not even close to being true. I'd be fascinated, you know, just to kind of get to know people and, and so, you know, I, I kind of came to this, uh, I don't know, it's probably probably around cancer, where I realized that, you know, the world is living with the clenched fist and I live with an open hand. Right? And so in that, you know, it's like somebody used the illustration. If you were trying to, if love was sand and you're trying to, you know, put hold as much love as you possibly could in your hand, you know, you would open your palm and you would stack it up, right? Open hand, it can come and go. Right. It's just, everything's there. It's all good. It, it's free. It's free. But if you have a clenched fist and you're trying to hold onto sand that way, by the time you open your hand, you realize that it's empty and there's nothing in it cuz there's no room for anything in it because you have a clenched fist.
And so for forever, I always thought maybe I'm just gonna live with an open hand and I'm gonna avoid the clenched fist. And it's really been liberating and powerful to kind of see the world in that way. And, and when I do see a, a close fist, you know, I, I, I don't, I don't meet that with, um, resentment. I just, I meet it with kind of like, that's so sad. You know? It's, it's like they're missing it. They're missing the, the really cool stuff just by allowing things to, you know, it's the Lord's plan, it's his world. He created it. Let you know, like, I'll do my part <laugh>, I'll just love eople.
Scott Hamilton (12:54):
And you know, and, and from there we'll just kind of see where it goes.
Joey Odom (12:58):
The thing that, the thing that strikes me, a theme that I've, that I've seen emerge in going through your story and even beginning with that line that you said that I can't believe it's over. And then that experience you had right out right after, and then it, and then it wasn't over. And so the thing that I, the thing that's jumped out to me a lot is these moments throughout your story where it should have been over. And, and it was, and it began as, and I want you to take us back to it, but it began as an adopted, an adopted child. And your mother and your father said, it's not over for him. And then it went into, you got sick and your mom said, no, no, no, it's not over. And then so people said about you, it's not over. And then you said for yourself it's not over. And now you're saying for others through the, through the Cares Foundation, it's not over for you either. So I have, I have this, and I don't know if this theme is, is is right on or not, or if I'm trying to be too abstract, but it seems to me that it's over and over and over again. It was these moments that it should have been over. And whether somebody else for you, you for yourself or you for others have said, no, it's not over.
Scott Hamilton (14:06):
You know, it's really wild. Um, you know, just looking back, you know, it's, it's, it's, you know, we're at our best when we're moving forward. You know, I think, you know, when I was a little kid and I was, um, in all the hospitals, um, I was just a kid. I didn't know that was my reality. You know, I didn't know. I mean, you go, like, you go to a children's hospital now and you see kids that have been sort of professionally sick for a long time and that's their world. They don't know any other world that's, that's just theirs. And they, they adapt and they learn how to cope with, you know, the daily treatment or tests or whatever. And that was kind of me back then. And so I was just moving forward. I was just, you know, I, I was just active and fun and crazy. I made the best of every situation. And then, and then I, you know, I'd give my parents a morning off. I started skating and, and, um,
Joey Odom (14:52):
Yeah. Will you go into some depth there for people who haven't heard it? It's, it's such a beautiful, maybe starting the sickness and from there, just going into some depth on that store. Cause it's just so good.
Scott Hamilton (15:00):
Yeah. So I stopped growing when I was really little. And so, you know, they didn't know if cuz I was adopted, right. They didn't know if it was normal or if this is something they needed to be concerned about. And then I started showing some signs of stress and so they realized it wasn't normal. So for the next four years I was in and outta hospitals, um, started in my hometown, then went to bigger city hospital in Toledo, and then a bigger city hospital in Ann Arbor near Detroit. And then bigger city hospital in Boston. And each year, like each of those hospitals took about a year and just to complete their work and, and they could never find what was wrong with me. It was kind of misdiagnosed. Um, in the beginning or, uh, you know, halfway through, I guess in Ann Arbor, they thought I had cystic fibrosis and then they realized they didn't.
And then at every symptom of a disease called Schwagman Diamond syndrome. And so I was, uh, accepted to be, um, looked after by Dr. Schwagman himself. And yeah, he put me through all the tests, had me, every symptom. And he said, I, you know, I don't have it. Um, so I was kind of sent home with sort of like instructions of live a normal life, see what happens. We, cuz if we can't, if we can't diagnose it, we can't treat it. And so just go home and see what happens and let's see where this thing goes. And so it was right after that that our family physician thought our, you know, my family was just, my parents were just shattered and exhausted. I mean, I'm thinking of the financial, emotional, you know, just all of it, the physical toll it took on them just to be dealing with a sick kid.
And, and so to give 'em a morning off, I went to the rink. It was a brand new facility at Bowling Green State University. I was just there last weekend. It's like, it's amazing facility. It's, it's the one university building that is used as much by the city of Bowling Green as it is by the university itself. That's cool. It's, it's really a great destination. And so I started skating and, and, and then I just realized that I could do something as well as well kids. And I, I got a kind of big taste of self-esteem and then I realized I could do, I could skate as well as the best athletes in my grade. And then I got really like, totally rink rat. That was it. I was gonna be a rink rat, not <laugh>. I was on the ice all the time, <laugh>.
And so I loved it and it was fun. It was satisfying. I saw myself getting better. I saw myself getting, um, stronger. I found myself getting healthier. And so my parents are like, well, nothing's worked over the last four years except for this, so we're just gonna stay with this <laugh>. And, and then, you know, I started testing and competing and traveling a little bit and doing all that. When our family got fully invested, my mom was the test chairman at the skating club and she was really great at hospitality. So that really allowed her to kind of understand how to best entertain the judges so they'd want to come back and, you know, judge these tests and these competitions. And then, uh, my dad, you know, would, he loved building things. He was good with his hands. And so he, he would build all the props for the ice shows and they were really creative in the way they did that. So everybody was all in. My brother took skating lessons as well and played hockey. My sister took some in the beginning and was in a couple of the original ice shows. And so it was just really a, it just, our family got totally taken up into this new activity and, and it just was, you know, I just was learning and growing and learning and growing and, and it was, uh, an answered prayer.
Joey Odom (18:20):
So that's, that's around six years old. And I, and I know I don't wanna fast forward too much because it's, I mean the, the thing that I'm struck by this, I watched your I am second video, which was fantastic and, and you, the thing that if not for that, if not for that sickness, your, your growth would've not been stunted and you would not have become the ice skater that you became and you probably wouldn't have become gotten on the rink. I mean, it's been, it wasn't until years late. I mean, connect, connect. I would love for you to jump forward to 1997 and you get a, you get No, I'm sorry, to, to your brain tumor diagnosis, which was 2004, your first one where, um, I'd love to connect those two stories cuz that's another,
Scott Hamilton (19:00):
Yeah. So yeah, so I had this four year tour of hospitals, <laugh> <laugh>, and, uh, they could never diagnose it. And then I went through a pretty well publicized about a cancer 97 and I'm sure we'll get to that. And then, uh, in 2004, I'm now a husband with a young son and, uh, I'm symptomatic and I go into the Cleveland Clinic where I always tell, you know, men, especially cuz we're less vigilant with our health than women, you know, so I, if you're feeling something odd or weird or something's different, just get it checked out. Yeah. You know, get to the root of it. And so I decided to put my money where my mouth is and I, I went to the clinic and I just had 'em, you know, answer some questions. And, um, they just say, well, you're getting older or it's just an after long-term effect of the chemo, or it's just this, or, you know, they kinda explain everything away and it's like, Hmm, nah, none of that really sits Well, I go, it's my peripheral vision that's wacky. And they go, oh, okay, well let's get youd for a head scan. You know. So they went in for the head scan and my family was arriving that day cuz I had a big benefit. I put on in Cleveland every year. And, um, so I <laugh>, I, uh, I, I'm walking out of the MRI and the attending position said there's something in there. And I just said, you'd be the first to actually, you know, say that because really there's nothing
Joey Odom (20:22):
Going on in there, <laugh>.
Scott Hamilton (20:23):
And, uh, so he said, your doctor will be waiting back in his office. And so I went back to my doctor's office who treated me for my cancer, and he just said, um, you have a brain tumor. And I was like, Hmm, uh, no, I get a pass. I did chemo, I did surgery, I get a pass. I don't have to go deal with anything that's close to that, you know, I get a pass. He goes, no, whatever this is, we gotta deal with it. So my wife arrived that day and, um, you know, Tracy just, you know, she and, uh, my son Hayden were arriving with her parents and she goes, what's going on? I go, I'll tell you upstairs. Hmm. So we went up to the room and put Aden on the floor and he is like, you know, banging on the, you know, phone on the cradle like kids do.
And she just said, what's going on? I, and I just, I have a brain tumor. And she just grabbed both my hands and just started praying. And it was really powerful. You know, it's like I, I was leaning into faith, really leaning into faith, you know, uh, up, up until that moment. And that sealed the deal. And so, um, they, they were having a hard time diagnosing it, and finally they had to go into a biopsy. So there's a little hole in my head right here that went through and, you know, took a piece of it and, and, uh, you know, I woke up from the surgery and they're everywhere smiling, and it's like, what's going? And they go, we know what it is. And it's like, uh, we're just gotta figure out how to treat it now. I'm like, okay, you're gonna be fine.
It's like, great. And so <laugh>, uh, the doctor gave my Tracy this information on, on a cranial pharyngeal brain tumor. Um, and it says on there, it's like, oh, it says, you know, trace goes listed to this, you know, cranial FRS are usually detected early in a child's life due to a lack of growth and development. So I, it seems I was born with this brain tumor. And so, you know, it's like the perspective comes with, am I angry or do, am I a victim because of this brain tumor? Well, if I connect the dots, it's like, no, I just, it it allowed for amazing things to happen. So in that, you know, it's like, you know, a lot of people, you know, accuse me of being a disgusting serial optimist, you know, but
Joey Odom (22:31):
<laugh> disgusting serial
Scott Hamilton (22:33):
Optimist. But it's just like that. It's like, I, I, no, I, I, I understand that nothing is really by accident and everything is meant to Yeah. Uh, strengthen me or prepare me for the next. And in that it was really cool that it answered so many questions, you know, why I was in the hospital, and can you imagine just for a second if they would've found that brain tumor in 1963 or four? No, it would've been awful.
Joey Odom (23:00):
So, and who knows? Yeah. Who knows how they would've, uh, uh, tried to approach it, the medical, it
Scott Hamilton (23:04):
Would've taken the top of my head off. Oh my gosh. And, you know, so it, it would've been barbaric and it would've changed my life for the worst. And so now that we have all this technology, they're able to detect it. Now that we have all this technology, they're able to treat it in a way that allows me to kind of get back to life. And now that, you know, even though the treatment had, um, lifelong effects, they're able, you know, with metabolic and hormonal function, they're able to replace those through, you know, pharmaceuticals. And I can live a relatively normal life.
Joey Odom (23:35):
Has you, with your four kids have in, in, in that story? I mean, to me, I hear that as like the thing that you believe right now is the, the worst thing in your life could be like the biggest, the biggest catapult for you, the thing you have, you, have you used that as you were raising your kids? Did you go ba I mean, it seems to me like I'd be telling this story every day and I'd wear my kids out because it's just so profound.
Scott Hamilton (23:55):
No, I think I, they get it. I mean, they know me and, and I'm their dad. You know, it's, I'm just, you know, I'm, I'm, you know, I don't get it, you know, I'm just so, you know, squared, my jokes are dumb and, you know, I'm a dad, right. So that's all that stuff. But that's, you know, I think they both understand that, or, you know, my, both my birth children especially understand that, you know, genetically, you know, they're, there's some stuff that happened to me that they've gotta be vigilant about. Right. The other side of it is, there's, there's stuff within me that is within them where they can now explore, you know, athleticism in a, a way of knowing that there is, you know, with work and with, with dedication and with proper, uh, processing of failure, <laugh> Yeah. Um, you know, you can really take it as far as you can take it, you know, it is just, you know, not everybody that steps on the ice is gonna go to the Olympics, right.
But there are some that if they, if, you know, just because of timing and lock and, you know, genetics and Yeah. Um, perspective and Right. Intentionality and all those things, it's like, yeah, you can go pretty far, you know, depending on all those things. Right? So for me, you know, it was, it was a real combination of divine intervention. It was just, you know, kind of personal story. Like, you know, being in hospitals for all those years taught me how to be very independent. So when you're stepping on the ice by yourself in a big moment, you know, you're, you're kind of already pre-wired for that, you know? So in that, there's a blessing. So it's really just, you know, leveraging your blessings and learning from your setbacks where you can really, you know, step into those moments and kind of go, oh, that's what that meant, <laugh>. I get it now.
Joey Odom (25:43):
Scott Hamilton (25:44):
Oh, that didn't make any sense back then, but now, okay. Yeah. That was a real hard time, but an incredible long-term blessing.
Joey Odom (25:54):
And what's cool about that for you is you actually got to see the, the full circle of that. I mean, the fact that it was, I say, cool. I mean, you had a brain tumor, that's not fun, but a lot of people, you'll go through things and you don't know what that has equipped you for. You don't know what you avoided because of that. You don't know what opportunities were afforded to you. You found out, okay, this is why I was in the hospitals. This is why my, this is, you know, this is the good stuff that came from my growth being stunts. And so it's neat that you gotta see that perspective where a lot of people just think like, this sucks. Right? Like,
Scott Hamilton (26:20):
What? Well, it does. And it, and it does. And and I don't blame anybody for thinking that, but you're, you're making assumptions and you're making, you're creating perspectives without all the information, you know? And man, that's, and that's kind of it, you know, if you, you know, you don't know why this happened, it's like, why did, why did I, I move from here to there. I, you know, it, it felt like I was to be with a coach or get better ice time Oh, because of this, and why, why did I have cancer? It's like, why, why does anybody get cancer? It's like, well, okay, I'm, I was lucky that through research, two guys from Indiana figured out how to treat my cancer. Okay. Pay attention to that moving forward. Okay? It set me down. It really allowed me to take stock. And then I was able to step into the next part of my life with an open mind and an open heart.
You know, I wasn't, you know, and in those times, you know, it's like, it, it's, it's almost, you know, sometimes it feels like, you know, we get moved, you know, it's like the Lord's whispering into our ear all the time. No, go here, do this. I need you over here. I want you to do this. And you keep going later, later, not now. You know, it's like, you know, Jonah, get in the boat going the wrong way, you know, <laugh>, it's like me put you in a fish and I'll tell a fish for to go. Right? It's kind of like all that. It's like, then we get moved, right? Yeah. So I, you know, I, I, um, I, I had be, you know, through all the, you know, sort of notoriety and all the, um, incredible wealth, you know, that I was able to experience and all the other stuff, you know, I was kind of, I wasn't going where I was supposed to be going, and I, I wasn't living as I I, and I was turning into something I didn't like, you know, and, and in that, it was on me to kind of, you know, write the, write the ship, you know, kind of get, get back on course.
And, and, and I didn't understand that until I, I got sat down with cancer mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And because of the nature of the chemotherapy and the 38 staple surgery, it's kind of like, okay, all right, I'm, I'm really giving, this is perspective. And I have a second chance of life where my mom had no chance. You know, she, two years of, they threw everything they could at her. And, you know, she was tough and strong, but there was never gon, there was never a chance in the world that she was gonna survive that cancer. So it's like, you know, now what do I do? Well, I was a fundraiser when she died, and then 20 years later, I'm now a survivor, and it's time for me to become more of an activist. You know, how do I change this for the better and forever? And, um, and it's, it's been an ongoing, you know, kind of quest mission, um, to, you know, really just figure out where I can best serve the cancer community to make sure 18 year old boy doesn't have to bury his mom. Hmm.
Joey Odom (29:13):
That's powerful. The, the, the one thing that jumps out from the Tracy story, the story of your brain tumor is, and you think about, and you think about when Jesus healed people, sometimes it was their own faith, but then sometimes it was somebody else's faith. And he said, because of this person, on behalf of this person's faith, you're healed. And I think about Tracy just like, again, like an it's not over moment where she grabbed your hands and prayed, and it was on her faith on behalf of you that gave you faith. And then you went through that. It's, it's, um, that she sounds like a pretty amazing, uh, pretty amazing woman for that to be her immediate reaction. Oh,
Scott Hamilton (29:47):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. She's really, and you know, she's just grounded and, um, she's smart and she's, um, you know, she's just, you know, empathetic and, um, she's super compassionate and, and, you know, she just understands things in, in a way that, you know, maybe others don't, or, you know, maybe it's just, you know, just the way that she grew up and the way that, you know, she was so rooted in her faith from a very, very early age that she allows things to be looked upon differently. But, you know, with incredible wisdom and almost with, um, Clair Voyance, you know, <laugh>, it's really wild, <laugh>. It's like she can see things coming a mile away where I kind of like
Joey Odom (30:28):
<laugh>. I have no
Scott Hamilton (30:29):
Idea what's going on. And so I just have to, you know, just be the guy that goes, ab I, I get it. Okay. You, you see this in a much stronger way than I do, and much more clear way than I, I do. And I just, yeah, okay. How can I, how can I participate in this? Or how can I move forward? And, and she's remarkable. You know, like she, um, when I was going through, you know, all my brain tumors, I'm on my third one now, and it's just like, you know, with each one, I, I go, I'm going in for a scheduled routine, you know, scan and I, whatever in the news, I'm gonna just accept it joyfully. Right? So she was doing an interview one time, and I'd never seen her do an interview before. So I snuck around the corner, I was listening, you know, sort of used dropping on the interview.
And, and the interviewer said, what's up? This joy thing, you know, joyful stuff that Scott talks about with his testing. And she said, oh, Dr. Dr. Misunderstand, it's like, joy is the lack of fear and suffering. It's how you go through it. And it's like, she is so smart. <laugh> just admire her. Just her perspective, in her way of really being able to articulate something in a, in a way that is really broadly, you know, accepted, you know? Yeah. You could say that and say, okay, that I'm gonna have to process that for a minute. That told Joy isn't the lack of fear and suffering. It's how you go through it. Okay. All right. I gotta process that and apply it, because obviously it works <laugh>, you know? Yeah. Right. It's,
Aro Team Member (31:57):
We hope you're enjoying the show. Let's take a quick moment to hear from one of our members about how Aro is impacting their life.
Aro Member (32:04):
When the phone's not connected to you, it's not in your pocket. It's not within reach. At least for me, I'm a little more relaxed. I'm a little more kind of at ease because I'm able to just focus at what's going on around me and be present for what's happening. And for me, largely what that is, is family time in the evenings. And so, without a doubt, I think I perform better as a father and a husband from just a pure engagement perspective with my family when the phone is not there. And ro is just creating that home for the phone to live and giving me the encouragement that I might need on some days. And the motivation to say, Hey, don't forget how better you feel when you do take that intentionality and, and put it towards the family In this, this quality time
Joey Odom (32:48):
You said, and I know we're not going linear here, um, by, by design, you're on your third brain tumor. What is, what is life like now? What is, how are things right now with, with this
Scott Hamilton (32:58):
Third? I, I just ignore it. You know, I, I, I've given it such power and authority over me for such a long time that, you know, the first one was treated with gamma knife radiation, which wiped out all my pituitary function. And so I'm in all these, you know, uh, replacement hormones and all these things, and then I just gotta be vigilant on certain things cuz my body doesn't operate the way it used to. But I, I just need some help. So I got the help, and that's good brain, brain tumor number two, it presented itself really well for surgery. And because I believe, not in second opinions, but in seventh opinions, um, <laugh> and I have the right people around me that aren't just hoarding the gig as it as it were. I got direct access to the foremost authority of my particular brain tumor, who's in Boston, and, uh, invented the surgery that I needed.
So I went to him and there's about probably a 3% chance, you know, that the surgery isn't gonna go exactly as planned. And normally I'm kind of in that 97% <laugh>, but this time I was in the 3%. And so, oh gosh. Um, yeah, there was an artery in a different place, um, then it, most people. And so they nicked an artery going in, it became an aneurysm, and then, you know, it sort of one surgery became nine. And so, um, and then I woke up at the end of that whole journey, I woke up and I was blind in my right eye. And so they had to kind of figure out how to redeem that. And, and so they got, I got about 60% vision in that eye. So, um, you know, it was, it was a tough go. And then, you know, okay, so 2004 brain tumor gam, and I have 2010 nine surgeries, 2016, it shows up again.
And this time it was different. This time it was everything in my spirit said, get strong. Hmm. I was like, I don't know what that gets strong gets. I don't always get strong. What is that? What, what's going, I had no idea. Everything in the, in the back of my mind was just saying, don't worry about this. Just get strong. And I was like, ah, all right. Well, I just, all right. And so they go do, uh, what do you think? Do you wanna do the surgical or the medical option? I go, I'm, I'm gonna go home and get strong. Hmm. And, um, and I didn't know if it was physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual. So I kind of chose e all the above. And, uh, it was really amazing how, and just that decision to into change the way I live a little bit and really focus on the important things that the tumor has shrunk grown, not grown, shrunk grown.
It's just been kind of doing this, you know, a little bit. And so it's like, okay, so for the last, you know, what was a 2004, 2010, 2016, a pattern emerging, I've been able to skip, you know, the last seven years I've been able to skip a whole treatment cycle just by being more aware of, you know, kind of my physical being and, and everything else. But you know, it's like we're, you know, as I tell a lot of people that, you know, come to me with cancer diagnosis and what are next steps, you know, I just said my next steps are live joyfully and productively and wonderfully. And you know, it's just like, cuz our bodies are susceptible and fragile and vulnerable to countless things, equally resilient, ultimately temporary <laugh>. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So we live in the tension of that all the time.
So for me, the best way to go is just to, just to, you know, today's one of your days live it, you know, how is that a, a fundraiser in New Jersey and it's called, um, what was it called? Buy time. Hmm. That was the name of the fundraiser. And they have it every year. So this guy, uh, his brother puts on the, the fundraiser cuz um, the gentleman who inspired it, um, succumb to cancer. He was given like, um, six months. So, you know, it's always six months. Right? Right. Yeah. <laugh>, it's always six months, but it's always six months. I think it's kind of one of those best guess things, right? And he said, well, I know you can't cure me, but how long can you keep me alive? Right? Hmm. And they kept him alive for five years, and in those five years he lived greater than he ever could have without that diagnosis.
So he bought time, he was buying time. And so, you know, now they're trying to find a cure for his cancer and other cancers by doing these big fundraisers for research. And, and it's really remarkable that, you know, that's, that's, we we're given so many days, you know, and today's one of our days, you gotta live it. Right? And so it's, it's that whole, and again, I'll say, I'll use the word again, tension of living in that susceptible, resilient, temporary. Hmm. And the tension of that is just sort of, okay, so be vigilant, understand, you know, when you're going through a period of suffering or a period of, of challenge, whatever that is, um, respect it. Um, learn everything you can about it. Make you know the best right choice, not just knee jerk because it's right there in front of you, but do your homework and figure out what's best.
And then, you know, understand that, um, you're gonna have some really phenomenal days and you're gonna have some really tough days. And, but they're all equal. You know, they're, they're, they're, they're all equal in the fact that that's one of your days and it's how you respond to it. You know, it's this, it's, you know, it's so much about, you know, the sports, right? Where if you can respond to a victory or defeat in the same dignity, then you really understand sports and you, and in that way, if you respond to those types of things, a great day and a tough day, equally with the same dignity, then you really understand how to live your life
Joey Odom (38:44):
Poem. If by Rud Kipling, there's a, there's a line in there that says if you can basically approach success and failures as the imposters, they are just recognizing that each are imposter. Right? I love that. Isn't that great? I
Scott Hamilton (38:55):
Love that. I love that they're imposters cuz they put you in that weird place where, you know, life is different. No, it's just, you know, say it was another day, it may open up some doors or it may close some depending on, you know, which whatever it is. But, you know, again, everybody's life is theirs and their, it's theirs to live and it's theirs to enjoy and it's theirs to explore. And, and, you know, there's so much about, you know, just, um, our world that, you know, you know, we've seen it through covid, you know, wasn't, you know, it's, it's, it's a, a pathogen, it's a whatever it is that really, you know, uh, caused a lot of suffering and a lot of loss of life. But you look at the d the deaths of despair mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and that's the, that that's like, yeah, think bad things happen. We get sick all the time. But the, that, I mean, for people to get into a really tough period of suffering, so much so that they take their own life. I mean, that's, that's epidemic that we really need to, to cure as soon as possible in every way we possibly can.
Joey Odom (40:08):
So true. Um, it does make us, it does make, I think about this a lot. Like if we had this grasp, it's like we, we live like we, like we are, we will eternally be on the earth. And it's just, it just, I think our whole days would change. And, and this is not a you, you may reach through the screen and punch me here, but you have a reminder in your head that says that my days are numbered. Right? I mean, and, and that it's, and I'm not gonna call it,
Scott Hamilton (40:32):
I'm totally comfortable with that, by the way.
Joey Odom (40:33):
Yeah. Are you okay?
Scott Hamilton (40:35):
No. Cause I'm, I'm, I feel like two things. One, I've gotten way more outta life than I ever thought to dream. Hmm. Like, I never would've even thought to dream any of this stuff that's happened. Right. And the other is, I'm, you know, I'm on house, I'm playing with house money now, <laugh>, you know, it's like I, I coulda would've, should have died years ago. And now I, I get to, you know, this is sort of, this is great and I, I, again, I go back to that, you know, the, the analogy of house money, it's like I've already, I've got my winnings, you know, I've, I've got all those, I I got more days than I ever thought possible. So now it's just sort of like, how do I, how do I figure this thing out to where I can really just soak it up and live every day and understand the, the, you know, just the opportunity and the power and the importance of, of every day and, and just how, you know, they're not guaranteed I'm not getting any younger, which is fine too, you know, it's like the whole idea of getting old is its own accomplishment.
You know, it's, I always, you know, whenever my kids say I'm so tired, it's like, oh, that's an achievement. You know, <laugh>, you earned that
Joey Odom (41:39):
<laugh>. Yeah, that's right.
Scott Hamilton (41:41):
So everything can be spun, right? Or everything can be tweaked or everything can be, you know, just looked upon differently. And, and that's why I, I really look more into optimism than I do into pessimism. And I, I see things obviously differently with a lot more of a long view perspective of, you know, kind of life. I've, as I've lived it, you know, now I'm in my, I'm 64 and it's like, you know, wow, that's crazy. You know, I've out, I outlived my mom and I'm about to outlive my dad, you know, he died when he was 65. So it, it's, you know, God willing, of course, but it's just like, you know, it's that whole thing of, you know, I, I saw what those losses, you know, how they affected me and, and I wanna learn from that and I want to grow from that and I wanna honor them and I wanna, you know, raise good kids that make good choices, you know, but they have to make mistakes and understand them in order for that to happen, you know?
So it's all that, you know, it's, it's like, I dunno, I just see life probably differently than a lot of people. But, um, it's just the one I've been handed and the one I've been able to own and operate. So in that I just really want to be joyful and productive and, um, you know, just bless people as best I can. And I'm gonna probably let people down cuz you know, obviously nobody's perfect and we, there's always those expectations, right. You know, that it can never be met <laugh>. But, you know, if I have something to share, um, I'll share it and I may not, people may not agree with me and that's, that's on them. That's fine. You know, you know, we all have our journey and I respect it. You know, I, I just at the same time, would love to encourage people to kind of step into their daily lives with hope instead of hopelessness.
Joey Odom (43:36):
And you think about it, you think about it, you're playing with house money, but think about what it requires one for a human to be born mm-hmm. <affirmative> period. Right. You get, you know, you get, it's miraculous. And it, and it's that one, you know, not to my, my kids will listen to this and think I'm being gross by saying this, but you know, it's that one sperm cell that made it right. So there's the one and, and happened to get that one egg and then it happened to become a human and then it happened to, and we happen to not get hit by a bus. And so you, you know, we're, all of us are living with house money, all of us are playing with house money. And so if we could get that, this is a challenge to me personally, as I'm saying it is. And, and hearing you saying it is not just you because you've, cuz you've gone through what you've, you've gone through. But everybody, everybody's playing with house money. And if we could look with that, like, okay, well let's make the most of it then and live with, you know, live with abandon and, um, I think that'd change a bunch.
Scott Hamilton (44:23):
Well abandon with, with guidelines.
Joey Odom (44:27):
<laugh>. Well, yeah. Not, okay. So I saw, I saw a guy the other day on the highway on a motorcycle. This terrifies me thinking about it on a motorcycle at night going 70 miles an hour, texting while he's riding a motorcycle. So let's not do that. So we're not advocating for that kind of abandon. Yeah, I gotcha.
Scott Hamilton (44:42):
Yeah, it's so, it, but it, you know, it's like, you know, it works what doesn't work, you know, what's right and what's wrong, you know, what invites success and, and what invites calamity, you know, it's, yeah. It's just that, you know, I just, um, I just, uh, two days ago, uh, my Olympic roommate died of lung cancer and he just said, why did I ever pick up those cigarettes? Mm-hmm. You know, and yeah, it's like, oh, you know, and, and you know, but you know, people make those choices every day, you know, it's, um, and it's just, we know, we know what we know and there's risks to anything that we take on, you know, and, and you know, cigarettes are obviously legal and people buy them every day and we know that they cause certain things to happen. And then, you know, alcohol is the same, you know, it's like it causes this and this and, and, you know, we look at the amount of, um, you know, people operating cars and, and it's like, you know, these are all, all choices we can all make, you know, and, and sometimes, you know, it's, you know, we don't even know.
Right. You know, it's like you get to a certain point and it's like, oh man, I I, I lost my ability to make that a good choice there. Right. You know, it's like, so you, you look at, at those, those things with compassion and with a bit of, um, empathy and it's like, you know, it's, it's really easy to, you know, paint this broad stroke kind of opinions on things. But I, I try to look at each thing individually and, and just try to say, who am I to judge anyone, you know, who am I to, you know, cast, you know, it's like, we don't know. They're, you know, and bad things happen and it's awful when those things happen. And, you know, it's like, yeah, it would been great to tackle my gigantic, you know, Olympic roommate who was a pair of skater and so bloody strong. You can't imagine. And just try to say, don't, don't, don't light up that cigarette <laugh>, you know, it's like fool's errand. I couldn't have stopped him for anything. But again, you know, it was just, that's a choice that he regretted and, and, you know, I'm so sad that he's gone, you know, it just breaks my heart.
Joey Odom (46:55):
I'm so sorry. Thank you, Scott. We, we, we've, the theme really here without saying the word has been intentionality. And that's, you know, we're aro that's the pod this podcast is all about. It's, it's conversations with the people who strive to live intentionally. And everybody has a little bit of a different definition for that. I, I would love to hear for from Scott Hamilton, what, what is, what does intentionality mean to you?
Scott Hamilton (47:16):
I, you know, first word that comes to mind is focus. You know, like, if, if you're intentional, right? Then you're, you're, you're focused on something. You know, if, if you're intentional on being successful, then you are focused on what it's going to take for you to be successful. If you're intentional on wanting to be a good parent, then you're, you're gonna focus on showing up and being, you know, present. And if you're focused on being a good, you know, spouse, then you're going to look at your, you know, your significant other, you know, dedicated your life to, and you're gonna try to make it as good as it can be. So it is, to me, it's all about focus and dedication and those things really work well hand in hand, you know, I didn't really know how to win, uh, in figure skating. I knew how to lose, I knew how to fail.
And, you know, once I figured out that, um, if I just approach it differently, if I focus on things and, and increase my intensity and, and my commitment level, that'll change the outcome of my preparation and how I'm able to be more competitive. And so the intentionality is why would I wait till January to start training for a January competition? <laugh>, yeah. Right. It's like the intentionality is, okay, I got January competition. All right, let's, um, let's spend the summer building the foundation and then once we get into autumn, just put the pedal to the metal and start training like it's somebody's business so that when you step on the ice in January, or when you step into that known appointment in January, um, you're a hundred percent prepared. And, um, there's nothing that's going to come as a shock or a surprise because you've experienced all of it in your preparation. So I think intentionality is gonna look different for each and every person because their paths are different and our identities are different. And our, our our, um, you know, what we wanna accomplish in life is so different. So, um, but I do think it, it's, um, it's, it's a pure combination of focus and commitment.
Joey Odom (49:25):
I love that. Scott, I'm gonna be respectful of your time. Thank you for your generosity of time. We didn't go even in depth through your whole story. It's, it's amazing and it's, it's out there. I'm amazed every time you speak there is a different spin. You're telling the same story. You've sold it, told it so many times, but there's something different. And it's almost like you have a different revelation on each time. And it's so deep. I've legitimately have spent the last week, like I mentioned to you, in tears at times. Oh, sorry. <laugh> in, in, no, really, like, I'm so grateful for it just in tears at time listening to your story and, and how beautiful it is. And it, it's inspired me, uh, very, very much. And so I'm, I'm really grateful for you, your story, your generosity. I'm grateful for the people who said to you, it's not over for you. Saying to yourself, it's not over. And I know so many people, millions of people are grateful for you telling them it's not over. So thankful. Thank you for that.
Scott Hamilton (50:15):
Wow. I, I've got a lot of wonderful people around me that have poured into me and, and sacrificed a great deal, you know, for me. And I, I wanna honor that the best way I possibly can. So thank you for allowing me to share a little bit today. And I wish you the best in this project and every other.
Joey Odom (50:33):
Thanks so much, Scott. Not often you talk with a legend. He is a gold medal olympian. He is a cultural icon and you just heard him. He is as wonderful and genuine and as kind as you would hope. Scott Hamilton really did inspire me there and something he said that I love was, joy isn't the lack of fear and suffering, it's the way you go through it. And that was a line from his wife Tracy. And that does help. And he also said, and I'd encourage people as they're listening to this, he also said, sometimes we're creating perspectives without all the information. So even in the difficulty, like what Scott went through, sometimes we don't have all the information. So just like Scott said, I'd encourage you, encourage me, all of us, to just proceed with Joy. Could have gone a lot longer with Scott Hamilton. There's so much to his story. I'd encourage you to go check out all the resources that have historic cause it really, it really is incredible. So grateful to Scott. Thank you very, very much for listening to this episode of The Aro Podcast. We can't wait to see you next time. The Aro podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Podcast. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support. And to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.