Long-time conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh announced to his audience on Monday that he has advanced lung cancer and will miss time away from his show for treatment.
Limbaugh, who turned 69 on Jan. 12, frequently referred on-air to his “formerly nicotine-stained fingers,” a nod to his having quit smoking cigarettes earlier in his career. He also would often smoke cigars during “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”
“I first realized something was wrong on my birthday weekend, Jan. 12,” Limbaugh told listeners. “I wish I didn’t have to tell you this and 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.”
“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 and I know that inspires all kinds of curiosity with people wondering what’s going on,” he continued. “The worst thing that can happen is when there is something going on and you try to hide it and cover it up, it’s eventually going to leak …”
Limbaugh has hosted his nationally syndicated radio show since 1988, beginning in New York before moving to West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1996. In 2018, Forbes magazine reported Limbaugh had the largest radio show audience in the country with 25 million monthly listeners on 650 AM and FM stations.
He was the second highest-paid radio show host according to Forbes, making $84.5 million behind satellite radio shock-jock Howard Stern’s $90 million.
“It is what it is, and you know me, I’m the mayor realville. So, this has happened and my intention is to come here every day I can and to do this program 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, personally,” Limbaugh said.
“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. I am, at the moment, experiencing zero symptoms.”
Limbaugh has been a hero to conservatives since he began his show, and was named in 1995 an honorary member of the 104th Republican Caucus, whose members credited him with a large part of their success. It was the first time the Republicans had won both houses of Congress in 40 years.
This is not the first health issue Limbaugh has experienced in his 31 years of his national radio show.
In 2001, Limbaugh told his audience that he had become almost completely deaf, although he continued to do his show after surgery to have a cochlear implant.
In 2003, he announced he was addicted to prescription medication linked to back pain and surgery.