The world of figure skating has changed a great deal since the Dorothy Hamill graced the ice and took Olympic gold in 1976. She holds an interesting place in American pop culture, a landscape dotted by the famous and infamous. Yet, “America’s Sweetheart” has remained an iconic force even in the wake of some very personal issues, specifically that of Breast Cancer that made it impossible at times for her to embrace her greatest place of solace and artistry that of the ice rink.
American culture has a tendency to put our celebrities and olympians on pedestals and raise them up only to tear them down. Yet a rare few like Dorothy have somehow navigated this precarious topography and even against the backdrop of Breast Cancer has found a place in America’s heart and is an inspiration and reflection of the heart of America as she represents so many women who despite their fear and pain have faced surgery, radiation and many years of medications utilized to decrease the potential of relapse with the fortitude of warriors despite the side effects.
Hamill, now 59 is not only a voice for survivors but also a spokeswoman for the San Diego-based company bioTheranostics Inc which has designed a test, which is part of a larger educational campaign, BeWisER+ About Breast Cancer, created to encourage others to know their options.
In a recent sit-down and kick up your figure skates discussion she was as generous of spirit today as she was on the ice when so many of us fell in love with her for the first time. She is a realist, goal oriented, witty, with a touch of a loving sarcasm that pulls one in creating a duality in which she makes no apology for her success yet identifies with a sense of humility along with the nearly 200,000 American women diagnosed every year with the same kind of a hormone – receptor positive Breast Cancer as hers.
The bioTheranostics test, called Breast Cancer Index, explores a patient’s tumor in an effort to better understand the unique genetic “footprint” and in turn the potential for the cancer to return.
The BeWisER+ About Breast Cancer public information campaign is all about education and offering options as it encourages more women with hormone-positive Breast Cancer to approach their doctors about the medications they take and how long they should continue to stay on them.
Hamill says that she is glad the test was available and that she was able to make a very personal, very informed decision. Her present state of mind?
“Life is better now, life is full of possibility and life is simply glorious.”