Sunday, March 19, 2006
Another Fight For Bobby Hamilton
Bobby Hamilton announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with cancer. He had a malignant tumor removed from his neck on February 8th, and will begin radiation and chemotherapy Monday at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Ironically, the cancer was discovered when Hamilton sought treatment for an inflamed wisdom tooth late last year. While the infection was quickly cured, a swelling in Hamilton’s neck remained, prompting doctors to begin a series of tests that ultimately led to Friday’s announcement.
The entire Hamilton family – Bobby, Bobby Junior, and Junior's wife, Stephanie – are frequent guests on “Sirius Speedway.” Even baby Haylie has made an on-air appearance, cooing in momma's arms during an in-studio visit in February of 2005. We love them because they’re old-time racers in every sense of the word, and also because they’re straight shooters. If you’re a friend, the Hamiltons will walk through fire for you. And if you are unlucky enough to get on their bad side…well… let’s just say that’s not a comfortable place to be.
In a sport where it’s virtually impossible to keep a secret, Hamilton’s situation remained under wraps for weeks. A small circle of family, friends and fellow competitors knew what was going on, but as far as the general public is concerned, Friday’s announcement was a genuine shock. After initially considering racing his way through radiation and chemotherapy, Hamilton wisely decided to focus on what matters most; getting well. He stepped out of his Fastenal Dodge after a 12th place finish at Atlanta Friday night and handed the keys to Bobby Junior, entrusting the family business to his son while he prepares for the biggest fight of his life.
Make no mistake about it, Bobby Hamilton is a born fighter. He’s been on his own since the tender age of 13, growing up on the mean streets and battling his way to the top of a sport that cut him very few breaks along the way. It was never easy, but Hamilton’s pit-bull ferocity made quitting an impossibility. He has stood up to every challenge along the way, just like he’ll stand up to cancer in the coming weeks.
In typical Hamilton fashion, he asks for no sympathy.
“Don’t call me a cancer victim,” said Hamilton Friday. “I’m a survivor, not a victim. There are millions of Americans affected every day by cancer, and I want to help by being another voice in the push for a cure.”
He will be that, and much, much more.
Thinking about the Hamilton family this week, it occurs to me that everything happens for a reason. Bobby Junior’s off-season release from PPI Motorsports was contentious, to say the least, and left scars that will be long in healing. But while Cal Wells probably won’t be getting a Christmas card from the Hamiltons this December, how fortunate is it that Junior is now available to step-in and pick up the pieces for his Dad, allowing Bobby to focus on his own health, without worrying about the health of his race team?
Like I said, somebody up there has a plan, and no matter how this story ends, it will be according to that plan. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it was even a decade ago. Hundreds of thousands of survivors can attest to that fact, nationwide. And if anyone is qualified to spit straight into the “Big C’s” eye, it’s Big Bobby.
Cancer doesn’t know what it has gotten itself into this time
“I will be back, and I am not quitting,” said Hamilton Friday. “I am not that damn weak.”
Go get `em, Bobby.