Curt Schilling announced in February that he would take a leave of absence from ESPN due to treatments for cancer. At the time Schilling didn’t specify the type of cancer, which has since gone into remission after he finished months of treatments for squamous cell carcinoma (mouth cancer).
Wednesday the 47-year-old Schilling appeared on WEEI as part of its Jimmy Fund radio-telethon and revealed details behind his cancer publicly for the first time. Schilling said that he believes 30 years of chewing tobacco caused his cancer.
“I do believe without a doubt unquestionably. That chewing is what gave me cancer.”
Schilling also revealed that during the treatments he developed a staph infection and as a result there’s a week of his life he cannot recall. The former Red Sox pitcher also says he still has trouble eating — causing him to lose 75 pounds — and doesn’t have any salivary glands, leaving him to continually sip water. His sense of taste and smell have also been altered.
The interview also talks about the late Tony Gwynn, who died earlier this summer as a result of salivary gland cancer. Setting aside whatever previous notions you had about Schilling the player or Schilling the pundit, his brutal honesty about his fight against cancer is well worth a listen.