Curt Schilling Attributes Cancer to Smokeless Tobacco Habit

Curt Schilling said in an interview with Boston radio station WEEI that he believes the oral cancer he contracted recently was a direct result of dipping and chewing tobacco during his baseball career.

The legendary pitcher, who won championships with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Boston Red Sox, said, "I'll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got." Schilling also said that the squamous cell carcinoma he was diagnosed with in February is now in remission. Despite believing that heavy tobacco use gave him cancer, Schilling declared: "I'm not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing."

Fox Sports reported that Schilling had himself examined for his malady almost as a second thought. He recounted that he was driving to his doctor for a dog bite on his hand when he rubbed his neck only to discover a lump on the left side. Figuring that it wasn’t normal, he told WEEI: “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."

Schilling claims that dipping and chewing the tobacco was a source of comfort and that it relaxed him. Perhaps it helped him deal with the epic financial loss he suffered with the collapse of his video-game company 38 Studios in 2012. He explained, according to USA Today, that he was completely addicted to tobacco. He admitted that he had problems associated with his habit which included, loss of taste, bleeding gums, and “all this other stuff.” 

Nevertheless, he continued relying on smokeless tobacco and said that nothing would make him quit. However, after undergoing medical action for his cancer, he said, “The pain that I was in, going through in this treatment...I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful.”

Hopefully for Schilling his cancer will remain in remission. Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn, died in June after an unsuccessful four-year bout with salivary-gland cancer attributed to his long time habit of dipping.


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