Rarely one to mince words, radio host Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday opened up to his listeners about his draining months of treatment for advanced lung cancer, which he was diagnosed with in late January.
While he acknowledged the latest round of therapies was "kicking my a–" — saying, "For the last seven days, I have been virtually worthless, virtually useless"— he also said there were some things he was reluctant to discuss, such as the specific type of cancer he had, the particulars of how it was being treated and his prognosis.
"The temptation here is to start divulging a lot of stuff, and I’m not gonna do that," Limbaugh, 69, said on Tuesday's show, "because I vowed not to be a cancer patient on the radio. I vowed to shield as much of that from the daily program as I can."
The popular and typically outspoken (and sometimes controversial) conservative host also said he didn't want to open himself up to what he called undue scrutiny from news outlets.
"I got several emails … with questions about my physical condition, and it’s one of the reasons I didn’t divulge a whole lot of detail. There are many reasons why I don’t do that: a) privacy b) media doing investigations," he said.
"I’m still here, and that’s all that’s important," he said. "I can’t and don’t want to divulge any more than that. If I were to go into much greater detail, you know, the media would start researching everything I said."
Still, Limbaugh did get candid about some things, telling listeners an update was "probably overdue."
"These are extremely challenging times for me, medically — nothing that millions of you haven’t gone through or aren’t going through," he said.
He said he was in his "third wave" of treatment and it had been taxing.
"I’ve just now begun week two of this third cycle, and each cycle is three weeks," he said. But "the impact on the tumor in these three weeks is not expected to be significant."
"The reality is, the day is gonna come where I’m not gonna be able to be here," Limbaugh said. "I don’t know when that is — and I’m hoping that it is months, years." He has discussed the contingency of airing best-of compilations instead or having guest hosts, he said.
"I hope that that doesn’t happen. And I’m not, at the same time, making any excuses," he said.
Hosting his show, he said, was "one of my primary loves in life — and you in the audience are the reason that this love of my life has been so extraordinarily happy and successful. It would not have happened without you."
He intended to keep working and to keep living.
"I have this given set of circumstances, and I have to adapt to them and part of the adaptation is being honest with myself about what I can and can’t do and then zeroing in on what I want to make sure that I can continue to do that I like doing for as long as I can," he said. "And that happens to be the purpose of the treatment."
Limbaugh, one of the most popular hosts in the country, rose to national fame during the advent of conservative talk radio in the ’90s. He announced his cancer diagnosis while on the air in early February.
He said then that he “first realized something was wrong on my birthday weekend,” on Jan. 12, and his diagnosis was later confirmed on Jan. 20.
President Donald Trump used part of his State of the Union address in February to award Limbaugh, who was in attendance as a guest of honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor.
That move soon drew backlash from some celebrities and liberal politicians, in light of Limbaugh's long history of provocative statements. He helped perpetuate the racist claim that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. and once called a Georgetown student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for advocating for birth control.
Earlier this year, he went after former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for being gay.
On Tuesday's show, after discussing his cancer treatment, Limbaugh turned to defending Trump's decision to tweet a baseless conspiracy theory that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough murdered a young woman who worked for him in 2001.
In fact, the woman accidentally died after hitting her head. Her widower last week sent an emotional letter to Twitter urging the site to remove the president's posts about her death.
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