JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- It has been 44 years since she won gold at the Olympics, but now Peggy Fleming is empowering others struggling with cancer.
Peggy Fleming remains one of the most golden names not just in figure skating, but in all sports.
It's her fight with breast cancer that brought her to Jacksonville Saturday. She's sharing her story to empower others.
Her passion for skating put on top of the medal podium at the 1968 olympics. At just 19 years old, Peggy Fleming was America's sweetheart. But in 1998, Peggy was diagnosed with breast cancer "I was like whoah. It made me stand up straighter," said Fleming.
Peggy didn't let the disease win. She took what she learned from skating and fought it. "Just like being an athlete, I couldn't have won the Olympics without my coaches. You don't survive cancer without your doctor," said Fleming
So 30 years to the day after standing on the podium with the gold, Peggy had surgery to remove a malignant tumor. "When you have the diagnosis of cancer, it pulls the run out from under you," said Fleming. "You don't want to be singled out, people say how are you feeling. You're feeling strong, then you're reminded me I'm sick."
That's the message she's now spreading to others. She was in Jacksonville for the Pink Ribbon Symposium, reminding people to be aware of changes in their body. The free event brings in local experts to talk to people about the advances being made to cure cancer and tell people what they need to look for. Peggy says that's key. "Catching it early in most cases, it's very treatable. They've made so many advances," said Fleming.
So now peggy isn't just the shy, young skater so many of us idolized as kids, she's a breast cancer survivor many now turn to for support. "Just sharing something personal, I'd never had that...I'm very grateful I survived, but I caught it early," said Fleming.
October breast cancer awareness month. This is the fifth year of the Pink Ribbon Symposium. For more information, click on the link on the side of the page.