Originally created 02/13/98

Peggy Fleming undergoes surgery for breast cancer



LOS ANGELES -- Peggy Fleming underwent surgery for breast cancer this week -- 30 years to the day after winning an Olympic gold medal in figure skating.

Fleming, who was diagnosed about two weeks ago, has an excellent chance for a full recovery because the cancer did not appear to have spread, said her spokeswoman, Linda Dozoretz.

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

"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.

Fleming, 49, who won her gold medal at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, was 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 pro skater Caryn Kadavy, who performed with Fleming last month in "A Skater's Tribute to Hollywood," which will air next month on ESPN.

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

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

Fleming, a commentator for ABC Sports, canceled an appearance at next month's World Figure Skating Championships. 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," which featured people who have made significant contributions to sports in the last 40 years.

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