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Skating Star Fleming Has Surgery

By Minerva Canto
Associated Press
Friday, February 13, 1998; 4:25 a.m. EST

LOS ANGELES — Thirty years to the day after she won an Olympic gold medal, figure skater Peggy Fleming underwent surgery for breast cancer.

Fleming, diagnosed about two weeks ago, has an excellent chance for a full recovery because it did not appear that the cancer spread, said her spokeswoman, Linda Dozoretz. The surgery was performed Tuesday.

"This is another kind of competition, but I'm being coached by an excellent team, and I've got a real strong competitive spirit,'' Fleming said in a written statement released Thursday by her Los Angeles-based spokeswoman.

The surgery took place at a hospital near Fleming's home in Los Gatos, about 10 miles southwest of San Jose.

Fleming, 49, who won her gold medal at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, is recovering at home. She said she was thinking of the U.S. Olympic team in Japan and would be watching their performance on television.

"While I'm kind of facing another Olympics now, a 'life' Olympics, they're facing their 'athletic' Olympics,'' Fleming said.

The news spread through the skating community Thursday evening.

"I just heard the news, and I'm devastated,'' said Caryn Kadavy, who placed fifth in the U.S. Professional Figure Skating Championships in October and skated with Fleming last month for "A Skater's Tribute to Hollywood,'' which will air next month on ESPN.

"We did numbers from award-winning movies,'' Kadavy said from her Erie, Pa., home. "She looked beautiful. You know, incredible shape.''

Kadavy, 30, said the news hit her especially hard because there is a history of breast cancer in her family and she is careful to get timely breast examinations.

"She was one of my role models as a little girl,'' Kadavy said.

Fleming was scheduled to undergo six weeks of localized radiation therapy, a standard protocol for the disease. No other surgeries were planned.

A commentator for ABC sports for 17 years, Fleming canceled a planned appearance at the 1998 World Figure Skating Championships next month. She was expected to continue her broadcasting career after completing her radiation treatment, Dozoretz said.

"At first I was scared, but the more information I get, the more I understand this disease and ways to treat it. I'm in great shape,'' Fleming said. "I'll be back to all skating and professional activities soon.''

Fleming recently was included in Sports Illustrated's anniversary issue titled "Forty For The Ages,'' featuring those who have made significant contributions to sports in the past 40 years.

In addition to her gold medal, Fleming won five U.S. titles and three world titles.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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