February is National Cancer Prevention Month. And, it’s also the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
That means February is a month of champions.
And, it’s the perfect time to honor some of the great Olympians who beat cancer. Here are three inspiring athletes you should remember this February.
Olympian #1: Gymnast Shannon Miller, who beat ovarian cancer.
Shannon Miller is the most decorated gymnastin U.S. history – winning seven Olympic and nine world championship medals. She won the world all-around championship – twice.
In 2010, Miller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, just as she was making plans for a second child with husband John Falconetti. She had the ovary with the tumor removed in January 2011, and then went through nine weeks of chemotherapy.
Fast-forward to 2014 – she’s now cancer-free, and has two beautiful kids. Now, there’s something to celebrate.
Olympian #2: Swimmer Maarten van der Weijden, who beat leukemia.
Maarten van der Weijden conquered cancer before he tried for the gold. A Dutch long-distance swimmer, he was diagnosed with aggressive leukemia in 2001.
He battled the disease for two years, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. At one point, doctors expected him to die.
But van der Weijden was too tough. After half a year in the hospital, his cancer went into remission.
Then, he made a comeback and won the gold medal for the 10km open at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Today, van der weijden is an inspirational speaker, an author and a financial manager.
Olympian #3: Figure skater Scott Hamilton, who beat testicular cancer.
Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton has won practically every figure skating award in the world – he’s in the United States Olympic Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, he’s been nominated for an Emmy Award, and that’s just for starters.
He also beat cancer – and that might just be the honor he’s most proud of.
In March 1997, a testicular cancer diagnosis interrupted his “Stars on Ice” figure skating tour. Hamilton didn’t let the bad news get him down. “The only disability in life is a bad attitude,” he said. “I feel 100 percent confident that I can overcome this disease and be back on the ice within a few months.”
And he did. After twelve weeks of chemotherapy, surgery, and six weeks of recovery, Scott conquered his cancer and went on to found the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship). He’s also a lifetime spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute.
Now, that’s courage you don’t see every day.
For more information on monthly health observances, click here for a list of cancer awareness months and ribbon colors.
Talk to us in the comments! Who inspires you? Do you know any champions who beat cancer?