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Lusby woman teams up with Scott Hamilton to fight cancer

Arlington, VA- Chances are you know someone who has battled cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 1.5 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States each year—more than a half million people will lose their battle.

Even more staggering, nearly 40 percent of all adults in this country will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Some of the most common forms of cancer are breast, lung, prostate, colon and thyroid.

Cathy Miller, 41 of Lusby, has been battling papillary thyroid cancer for five years. In most cases, the cancer has a high cure rate. Miller is not most cases. By the time she was diagnosed she was stage four and it had spread to her lungs. Miller (left) is living on borrowed time.

Despite the grim prognosis and constant medical roadblocks, Miller doesn’t let the cancer define her life. She continues to coach field hockey at St. Mary’s Ryken High School, she travels, she runs, and she workouts out—she lives her life. In fact, if you met her, you’d never know she was sick.

The fact is, she is sick, very sick. Recently, she was invited to share her story at the Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer event at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. The event is the nationwide signature for the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation.

Most of us know Hamilton as an Olympic gold medalist and professional ice skater. He has also provided figure skating analysis for Olympic coverage for the past 15 years, including the recent Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

In the 80s, Americans came to love Hamilton for his fancy footwork on the ice. He rose to fame once again when he returned to skating after his very public battle with testicular cancer. Since 2004, Hamilton has also had three benign brain tumors—including the one he’s still living with.

Today, Hamilton’s passion isn’t on the ice, it is raising money for more cancer research and treatments. CARES—Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship—was founded by Hamilton in 2014.

At the Sk8 to Elimin8 event, Hamilton introduced Miller, where she bravely shared her battle with hundreds. Miller called herself a warrior. “I see myself as a warrior because every day that I’m living is a fight against cancer.” Miller also talked about the need for more research, more treatments and never giving up the fight. “A champion isn’t made of muscle, a champion is made of heart.”

After speaking to the audience, Miller talked with TheBayNet.com about her story. She said she tries to not think about her prognosis. “If I sat down and thought about my case and battle, it’s pretty depressing. I don’t think about it. I know what the realities are and I know everything I’m up against. You can sulk about it, or you can do something about it. I choose to fight it.

Hamilton also spoke with TheBayNet.com after the event. He encourages everyone to get involved where they can in cancer research. “You have to go where you feel you’re needed. We’re [CARES] all about going after the future and taking research to the next level.”

When it comes to dealing with a cancer diagnosis, Hamilton had a few words of advice. “Get as many opinions as you can. Get your case in front of as many doctors as possible and make a decision from there.” He said that will give you a broader sense of what’s going on and all of your options.

“Always make sure you have someone with you,” Hamilton said. “Your mind is racing and you’re getting a lot of information. Ask a lot of questions. Take notes and then organize the information.” Hamilton said information is power and it will guide you to the right decision.

He also encourages everyone to be their own advocate. “There are several different treatments for cancer, choose what’s best for you. It’s not just about life, it’s about the quality of life.”

Finally, Hamilton said find a doctor who is familiar with the treatment, not a miracle worker. “There are great doctors who do miraculous things. Then there are the doctors who do six a day. You want the ‘six a day’ doctor because that’s all they do and there are no surprises.”

You won’t find Hamilton on the ice much anymore. He said his feet just aren’t what they used to be. “I need to respect my body. My brain remembers what I like to do on the ice but my body doesn’t have the capacity to do it.”

While he’s still living with a brain tumor, Hamilton said it continues to shrink and he’s enjoying his life.

During the Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer event, participants raised more than $66,000—and a portion of that will be donated to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Click here to learn more about CARES and visit Fly4ACure to learn about the kite festival in St. Mary’s County to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

Editor's Note-Olympian Michael Weiss also joined the event and treated the crowd to a short skating routine that included a back flip.

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