Rush Limbaugh, a prolific conservative radio broadcaster who once compared smoking cigars to eating carrots, announced he was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of lung cancer.
“I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, and I thought about not trying to tell anybody,” Limbaugh said to his radio audience during Monday’s show.
Limbaugh began his career in 1971 at a Top 40-format music station in Pennsylvania before bouncing from station to station over the next decade. In 1984, he launched his well-known brand of conservative commentary at Sacramento radio station KFBK (1530 AM, 93.1 FM) after the Federal Communications Commission repealed a measure that required broadcasters grant equal time to political views.
His show drew a significant audience in Northern California and he quickly moved to WABC (770 AM) and ABC Radio in New York where his conservative talk show was syndicated nationally. It was at WABC that his love for cigars became known; in a 1994 profile with Cigar Aficianado magazine, he said his love for smoking began at a dinner party when the host passed around a box of cigars.
“He offered me one, and at first I rejected it. But I finally relented and took it, because it was a celebratory evening,” he said.
He laughed off critics who suggested cigar smoking could lead to adverse health issues later in life — “It’s true that everybody who smokes dies, but so does everyone who eats carrots,” he quipped during a broadcast in 2015 — but on Monday he acknowledged that he’s dealing with the effects that smoking often brings.
Limbaugh said the diagnosis came on January 20th about a week after his birthday when he “first noticed that something was wrong.” He said the diagnosis came from two separate medical professionals.
“There are going to be days that I’m not going to be able to be here, because I will be undergoing treatment,” Limbaugh said on Monday.
It was not immediately clear when Limbaugh would start his treatment. The broadcaster recently signed a long-term deal with his current syndicator, iHeart Radio, that will keep him on the air for at least another few years.
The following is an excerpt from Limbaugh’s statement as delivered on Monday:
“I’ve mentioned to you that this program and this job is what has provided me the greatest satisfaction and happiness that I’ve ever experienced — more than I’ve ever thought that I would experience.
So I have to tell you something today, but I wish I didn’t have to tell you. And it’s, it’s a struggle for me because I had to inform my staff earlier today, and I can’t escape even though people are telling me it’s not the way to look at it, I can’t help but feeling I’m letting everyone down with this. But the upshot is I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Diagnosis confirmed by two medical institutions back on January 20th, first realized something was wrong on my birthday weekend, January 12th.
I wish I didn’t have to tell you this. I thought about not telling anybody, I thought about trying to do this without anybody knowing, because I don’t like making things about me. But there are going to be days when I’m not going to be here because I’m undergoing treatment or I’m reacting to treatment, and I know that will inspire all kinds of curiosity with people wondering what’s going on.
The worst thing that can happen is when there is something that’s going on, and you try to hide it and cover it up, it’s eventually gonna leak. And then people are gonna, why didn’t you just say it? Why did you try to fool everybody? It’s not that I want to fool anybody. It’s just that I don’t want to burden anybody with it. But it is what it is.”