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Shaun White 'just broke down' after learning his beloved physical therapist has cancer

The snowboarding and Olympic legend was devastated when his physical therapist was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
/ Source: TODAY

Shaun White’s Olympic career has come to an end, but one of his most ardent supporters is in the thick of her own battle.

White’s physical therapist, Esther Lee, accompanied him to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics less than two years after she was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The cancer, detected in the summer of 2020, spread to her spine, liver and lymph nodes. Doctors removed a tumor the size of a grapefruit from her pancreas. Chemotherapy and radiation followed.

“The day I told him about my diagnosis, he just broke down and —” Lee told NBC Olympics, while unable to finish her thought as she began crying.

The snowboarding legend, who closed out his career with three gold medals in the halfpipe after failing to medal in Beijing, is crushed about Lee.

“How could such an amazing person that only gives to others have something like this happen to her?” White said in a video he made for NBC Olympics.

White and Lee have developed a bond over their seven years together.
White and Lee have developed a bond over their seven years together.estalee11 / Instagram

Lee, who has treated White for seven years and also works with tennis great Serena Williams, says she hopes to remain optimistic.

“I am going to try and live the best that I can, no matter what the scans say,” she said.

Is she scared?

“It’s not so much death I’m scared of. Honestly, I’m scared of suffering,” she said.

Williams is trying to raise money for pancreatic cancer research and Lee is moved by the outpouring of support she has gotten.

“I’m surrounded by so many wonderful people who’ve been so generous and so supportive. It’s so encouraging,” Lee said.

White is one of the many on her side.

“I love her to death, more than any of this Olympics and these sports or any of this stuff,” he said.

Image: Snowboard - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 7
White and Lee after embrace after White finished fourth during the men's snowboard halfpipe final at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 11, 2022.Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

“To have her with me right now, it’s everything, cuz I didn’t really think I was going to have her with me,” he added while fighting back tears.

White is in his final Olympics and Lee can’t help but notice how the tables have turned in their relationship.

“I feel like I’ve been the strong one for him over these past seven years and for him to be the strong one for me has been really awesome,” she said. “These moments are my favorite that I’ll never forget.”