Controversial conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh announced on his show Monday that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
The 69-year-old “The Rush Limbaugh Show” host said he has begun treatment for the cancer, but didn’t go into details.
“My intention is to come here every day I can and to do this show as normally and as competently and as expertly as I do each and every day because that is the source of my greatest satisfaction professionally,” Limbaugh said on the show. “I’ve had so much support from family and friends during this that it’s been tremendous. I told the staff today that I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about. But I do and I have been working that relationship tremendously, which I do regularly anyway, but I’ve been focused on it intensely for the past couple of weeks.”
Limbaugh said he first reported shortness of breath near his birthday in the middle of January, then had two professionals diagnose the cancer.
“There are going to be days that I’m not going to be able to be here because I’m undergoing treatment or I’m reacting to treatment,” he said.
He also said he felt like he was letting his staff down and didn’t “want to burden anybody.”
Limbaugh launched his career as a DJ on a Pennsylvania radio station in 1971 and continued moving up the food chain, including joining New York’s WABC in 1988 for his nationally syndicated show, just before the Republican National Convention.
His voice is now heard on nearly 600 stations around the country.
While Limbaugh didn’t talk about it on Monday’s show, he has long talked about the glamour of smoking and how “cool” it is.
“Do you know how many healthcare programs are funded with the sales tax revenue from cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco-related products?” he said on a show in 2011. “I have long maintained that smokers deserve our gratitude. In fact, I think somebody should be chosen and a smoker should be given the highest medal that this country gives out. Whatever it is. The Medal of Honor? If not that, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Smokers are being told horrible things about themselves. They are being told they are rotten to the core, they are despicable. And yet they alone, practically, are funding children’s healthcare programs.”
Routinely recognized as one of the most listened-to hosts on the air, Limbaugh has faced a number of controversies over the years, including accusing Michael J. Fox of faking or exaggerating his Parkinson’s symptoms and calling veterans who oppose the Iraq War “phony soldiers.”
In 2012, Limbaugh blasted Georgetown University Law School student Sandra Fluke, who had spoken to House Democrats about mandatory insurance coverage for contraceptives, as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
He has also aligned himself stridently with Republican talking points and views, attacking abortion, minorities and climate change scientists.
In 1998, he was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Limbaugh said Monday that he will miss his next few shows while he and his doctors work on the next course of treatment.
“Know that every day I’m not here, I’ll be thinking about you and missing you,” he said directly to his fans.
Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, tweeted prayers after Limbaugh’s announcement.
“He has inspired a generation to enter politics, including myself,” she tweeted. “We are fighting with you, Rush!!!”
Jason Lewis, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota who previously worked as a radio talk show host, said filling in for Limbaugh as a guest host “was one of the greatest honors of my life.”
“We’ll be praying for Rush and his family during these challenging times,” Lewis tweeted.
“Just heard the news about Rush Limbaugh, a man who loves this country and his listeners dearly, and is a tireless warrior for things he holds dear,” Megyn Kelly tweeted. “Wishing him strength and tenacity as he takes on this new battle w/advanced lung cancer. Do what you do so well, Rush — FIGHT.”
Limbaugh just re-signed his contract with Premiere Radio Networks in January, a deal that President Donald Trump announced during a rally.
“Rush just signed another four-year contract,” Trump said in Miami while launching “Evangelicals for Trump. “He just wants four more years, OK.”