Curt Schilling has mouth cancer, believes it was caused by tobacco
Curt Schilling revealed on Wednesday that he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, more commonly known as mouth cancer, back in February. Schilling had previously chosen not to reveal the type of cancer he was battling but discussed his health issues in more detail during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon.
“This all came about from a dog bite,” Schilling said, via Boston.com. “I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor, and the day that I went to see the doctor, I was driving and I went to rub my neck and I felt a lump on the left side of my neck. And I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. So there happened to be an ENT [Ear, Nose, and Throat] right next door to the hand doctor, and I thought what the heck, let me just stop in and see and so I waited in the office and went in there and they did the biopsy, and two days later, they diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma.”
Schilling said one of the reasons he did not reveal the type of cancer he had been diagnosed with is that he did not want to become a part of baseball’s chewing tobacco debate. He is, however, convinced that using smokeless tobacco led to his cancer.
“I didn’t talk about it for two reasons,” he explained. “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…
“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.”
As we all know, Tony Gwynn lost his battle with cancer earlier this summer and had previously stated that he believed years of tobacco use led to his disease. His death has inspired a number of players to give up the nasty habit. Schilling is fortunate to have achieved remission. Hopefully his story also serves as a wake-up call.