ESPN baseball analyst and former World Series MVP Curt Schilling has been battling cancer since the early stages of 2014. While he has stepped away from his national television duties to seek treatment, the details of his cancer had been kept mostly quiet.
In an appearance on WEEI Radio in Boston, Schilling revealed that he has been battling squamous cell carcinoma, mouth cancer that he attributed to over three decades of chewing tobacco usage.
Here’s the quotes via the Boston Globe:
“I didn’t talk about it for two reasons. No. 1, I didn’t want to get into the chewing tobacco debate, which I knew was going to come about, which to me, I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got… absolutely, no question in my mind about that. And the second thing was I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I didn’t want the pity or any of that stuff because early on… I ended up spending about six months in the hospital because I had a bad reaction. I had a staph infection. I had what’s called C. diff. I had a couple different problems and there was a week there, there’s a week of my life I don’t remember while I was in the hospital going through this.
“The second or third day — I got chemo and radiation for seven weeks — and I came back to the room and my family was sitting there and I thought, ‘You know what, this could be so much worse. It could be one of my kids, it’s not. I’m the one guy in my family that can handle this,’ and so from that perspective it never, ever said ‘Why me? And I never will. I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably that chewing is what gave me cancer and I’m not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing. I will say this: I did for about 30 years. It was an addictive habit. I can think of so many times in my life when it was so relaxing to just sit back and have a dip and do whatever, and I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff. None of it was enough to ever make me quit. The pain that I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day it was the only thing in my life that had that I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful.”
Given the death of Tony Gwynn earlier this year and now this revelation from Schilling, the focus on the use of chewing tobacco in baseball will only increase. The details of Schilling’s cancer, and his current lifestyle, are sad to hear. Schilling has no saliva glands and lost 75 pounds during his treatment.
The good news in all of this is that Schilling’s cancer is still in remission. And we continue to hope for the best for him and that others can learn from Schilling speaking out.