Fighting Lung Cancer, Limbaugh Thanks Fans in Holiday Sign-Off
- In his last show of the year, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, 69, sent a heartfelt message of thanks to everyone who’s supported him through his ongoing battle against advanced lung cancer.
- Stage 4 lung cancer occurs when cancer that starts in the lungs spreads throughout the body; it’s the most advanced form of the disease and the hardest to treat.
- The nation’s leading experts tell SurvivorNet that there is hope for people facing this diagnosis: chemotherapy, targeted treatments, and immunotherapy are helping fighters live longer and better lives.
Pray for Rush Limbaugh and wish him and his family well.pic.twitter.com/sUqTj28f7b
“I wasn’t expected to be alive today,” Limbaugh said. “I wasn’t expected to make it to October, and then to November, and then to December. And yet, here I am, and today, got some problems, but I’m feeling pretty good today.”
Rush was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in February, meaning the cancer that started in his lungs had spread throughout his body. He’s had three waves of treatments throughout the year, but doctors told him in October the cancer wasn’t responding.
“My point in all of this today is gratitude,” Limbaugh said about the outpouring of support he’s felt. “My point in all of this is to say thanks and tell everybody involved how much I love you from the bottom of a sizable and growing and still-beating heart.”
Despite his polarizing political views, millions of people have extended their thoughts and prayers to Rush during his fight, and as he signs off for the year, the radio host is being flooded with holiday wishes for health and happiness.
Merry Christmas Rush! Love you. Have been listening to you for 30 years. Praying everyday for you that God continues to guide your doctors in helping you and you and your family close as you travel this road. God Bless!
— Lynn Hanson (@happylady610) December 24, 2020
Merry Christmas Rush @RealRLimbaugh, May you have a wonderful holiday, celebrating with family and friends, you are in our thoughts and prayers daily. 🎄
— Bruce Becherini (@Bubba_Zanetti1) December 23, 2020
Treating Stage 4 Lung Cancer
As he signs off for 2020, Rush will continue his fight with stage 4 lung cancer, meaning cancer that has spread beyond his lungs into other parts of the body.
This is the most advanced form of the disease and the most difficult to fight, but experts like Dr. Raja Flores, Chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Health system, say that there are more treatment options now than ever before.
“Stage 4 is a difficult diagnosis for people to get. Now, you have to realize stage 4, again, does not mean death,” Dr. Flores previously told SurvivorNet. “It’s very important to take things step by step.”
For decades, chemotherapy has been used as the main line of attack against stage 4 lung cancer. According to Dr. Geoffrey Oxnard, a thoracic oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, chemotherapy can be effective in killing all fast-growing cells in your body, killing the cancer in the lungs and beyond.
There are side effects to chemotherapy, however, and Dr. Oxnard and many other lung cancer specialists recommend combining chemo with more modern treatments like precision therapy.
“It’s the idea of moving away from just chemotherapy for all into finding the right medicine for the right patient,” Dr. Oxnard previously told SurvivorNet. “That involves figuring out the biology of a cancer.”
When you are diagnosed, your doctor will order genetic screening for your tumor to check for hundreds of potential mutations. Your doctor might then prescribe targeted medications that can fight back the cancer if it’s caused by one of these mutations.
Immunotherapy, which harnesses your body’s immune system to fight the cancer itself, has been hailed as a “game-changer” by Dr. Brendon Stiles, a thoracic surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine. If your genetics are responsible for your diagnosis, Dr. Stiles said that you might be able to avoid chemotherapy altogether.
“It’s amazing to me now that you can have stage four lung cancer and actually not even need chemotherapy,” Dr. Stiles told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “If you have high expression of a protein that we know is targeted by immunotherapy, you may just get immunotherapy alone.”
Cancer During the Holidays
For many survivors and people currently fighting cancer, the magic of the holidays can be complicated by the difficult realities of cancer.
“People are uncomfortable around cancer, and there’s a lot of fear, ignorance, misunderstandings and myths around it,” breast cancer survivor Diane Mapes previously told SurvivorNet.
For people whose fight is still ongoing, staying positive and focusing on your healing can be a godsend during the sometimes uncomfortable or isolating holiday experiences.
“My advice to others is to stay focused,” Karen Ballou, a Hogkin lymphoma survivor, previously told SurvivorNet. “Stay focused … think about one thing in your life or two things in your life that you can see when you’re well, that you want to go after. And you want to follow through with. That’s what got me through the holidays.”