Bongino's Cancer Care Plan
- Upon getting his diagnosis, Radio host Dan Bongino, 45, tells SurvivorNet that after an emotional call with his mom, he went home and “cried with my wife for a while.”
- Bongino said the diagnosis was a shock to him due to his healthy diet, his fitness regimen, and the fact that he doesn’t drink or smoke; plus, he has no family history of cancer.
- The host talked about a tax credit write-off plan which he believes could widen access to better care, helping others get the excellent treatment he is receiving.
I’m a 45-year-old guy who’s 6’1, 225 pounds. First person I called was my mom. I mean, I didn’t know what else to do.
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Bongino was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma after discovering a lump on his neck, which he initially thought was a lipoma, a fatty benign tumor. He was shocked by the size, saying, “It was an enormous tumor. It was seven centimeters by seven centimeters.” A biopsy was performed and the tumor was surgically removed, “and then it was confirmed to be Hodgkin [Lymphoma],” he says. “It was, in fact, cancer.” Following the surgery, Bongino’s treatment plan included chemotherapy and radiation. With hope toward the finish line, he says, “We’re going to go as light on the chemo as we can and on the radiation… God willing, this will be in the rearview mirror by February.”
A big martial arts guy, Bongino has always taken good care of himself. So the news rattled him. He tells SurvivorNet, “I’m a 45-year-old guy who’s 6’1, 225 pounds. The first person I called was my mom. I didn’t know what else to do. I just kind of broke down a bit,” says Bongino. “The first thing you do is you ask questions. I said to my mother, ‘I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I’ve never done a drug in my entire life ever. Not one time. I work out five days a week.’ I eat clean as a whistle and there’s zero – not a little, but zero – cancer in my family.”
Bongino shares that after the emotional call with his mom, he went home, and “cried with my wife for a while.” Coping with the grief that so often accompanies a cancer diagnosis can be a difficult process.
Dr. Scott Irwin, Director of Supportive Care Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview, “Grief comes in waves. It often gets better over time, but on certain days, it can look like depression. And other days, people look perfectly normal and can function. They’re grieving the change in their life, the future they had imagined is now different.”
Appreciation for Care
In speaking with Bongino, we get the sense he feels there’s a higher purpose to come out of his battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma. The radio host is very transparent about how lucky he is to receive care from the finest cancer doctors in America because of his well-connected friends. He’s a frequent commentator on Fox News and says when he first got diagnosed his colleagues there couldn’t have been more supportive, saying, “They couldn’t have done more. Sean Hannity, who is a close friend, not just a work associate, was on the phone with me – I kid you not, for probably close to five hours – and over the course of the following five days called every single contact [he had] and got me connected with the great [Memorial] Sloan Kettering institution up in New York.”
Bongino was fortunate to have help and support. He wants others to have access to the same kind of care he does. He wants to help millions of people get the excellent cancer treatment he’s now receiving, and he has a plan to make that happen. He says, “I thought it’d be the greatest idea to build [cancer care] into whatever health plan” comes to pass.
Bongino spoke about the high quality of his current doctors at MD Anderson, “these are just the finest places in the world. My doctor is amazing, whenever I need her, they have that ‘My Chart’ app so I can send her an email in five minutes.” Bongino says although he’s receiving some of the best treatment available, he did not come from money. “I grew up dirt poor. When I say ‘dirt poor’ I don’t mean like ‘kind of poor.’ I mean like ‘bologna-for-dinner poor.’ And now I do quite well.” He knows that not everyone can afford this same type of care, and doesn’t think that’s fair.
Tax Credits for Cancer Battles
Bongino says he thinks there is a way to make this kind of care widely available, and it has to do with implementing tax credits for treatment. He wonders aloud, “I always thought to myself, wouldn’t it be fascinating…” and talks about the possibilities of hospitals and doctors giving away the finest cancer care, and getting a full tax write-off from it.
Bongino’s desire for widely accessible top-notch care for people diagnosed with cancer is, inarguably, an admirable one. As the host of a conservative radio program, Bongino takes heat for some of his political views. As a result, it may be hard for people to look past the politics, in order to see his point of view. Bongino is a conservative guy, but cancer is a non-partisan issue, and moving the needle forward on excellent cancer care for everyone is a cause that we can, hopefully, all get behind.