Sports

Curt Schilling’s Mouth Cancer Caused by Chewing Tobacco

Curt Schilling Gehrig Schilling, Fenway Park, 2004 Red Sox

Curt Schilling and his son, Gehrig, at Fenway Park during a 10-year reunion of the 2004 Red Sox championship team. (Getty)

When Curt Schilling announced in February that he was battling cancer, the famously outspoken former Major League ace was uncharacteristically quiet about one important aspect of his diagnosis: The type of cancer he was battling.

But Schilling, who announced in June that his cancer was in remission, revealed Wednesday on Boston’s WEEI radio that he was suffering from mouth cancer that he’s certain was caused by chewing tobacco.

Schilling talked about the details of his diagnosis on the station’s Dennis and Callahan morning show during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund radiotelethon, which raises money for Boston’s world renowned Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Here’s the transcript of Schilling’s comments, via WEEI.

This all came about from a dog bite. I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor. And the day 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. I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. There happened to be an ENT [ear, nose and throat specialist] right next door to the hand doctor. I thought, ‘What the heck, let me just stop in and see.’ So I waited in the office, went in there and he did a biopsy. Two days later, he diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma.

You know what the amazing thing was, and I was just dumfounded by it: You’ve just been told you have cancer, and you walk out into the public, and the world’s still going on. It was really a challenge to wrap my head around that. My second thought was, ‘Wow, really? You think I can handle this, too, huh?’

I got chemo and radiation for [seven] weeks, and I came back to room and my family was sitting there and I thought, ‘You know what, this could be so much worse. This could be one of my kids. I’m the one guy in this family that can handle this. From that perspective, I’ve never said ‘Why me?’ and I never will.

Schilling is the second prominent Major Leaguer in the past several years to attribute a cancer diagnosis to tobacco use.

Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn, who died June 16 from salivary gland cancer, blamed his cancer on chewing tobacco, though doctors never firmly established the link.

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