Rush Limbaugh Gives Cancer Update … Gets Uncharacteristically Candid About ‘Death Sentence’ Prognosis

Written by Wes Walker on October 20, 2020

One of the things that helped Rush Limbaugh to basically invent his own radio genre and become the gold standard by which others were measured was his being a ‘happy warrior’.

He held a high view of human potential, of what can happen if you show up to a worthwhile fight, and what can be accomplished when you really put your mind to something. He demonstrated an ability to connect with his audience on a deep level.

When El Rushbo announced his serious lung cancer diagnosis, it was (for many) almost as shocking as hearing about a family member’s diagnosis.

Rush isn’t one to whine about his situation, he’s got a very realistic picture of his place in the world, but he figured his listeners were due an update.

There are some somber moments, some joyful ones, and an overall sense of God being in control of it all, come what may.

What follows are excerpts from the transcript of Monday’s October 19th’s show (you will see why the date becomes important):

In a nutshell, there are lots of ups and downs in this particular illness. And it can feel like a roller coaster at times that you can’t get off of. And again, I want to stress here that I know countless numbers of you are experiencing the same thing. If it isn’t lung cancer, it’s some kind of cancer. If it isn’t you, it’s somebody really close to you. If it isn’t an illness, it’s something. We’re all going through challenges. Mine are no better and mine are no different and mine are no more special than anybody else. But it can feel like a roller coaster.

…And at some point you can decide, you know, this medication may be working, but I hate the way I feel every day. I’m not there yet. But it is part and parcel of this. It’s tough to realize that the days where I do not think I’m under a death sentence are over. Now, we all are, is the point. We all know that we’re going to die at some point, but when you have a terminal disease diagnosis that has a time frame to it, then that puts a different psychological and even physical awareness to it. [emphasis added]

So, last week was treatment week. Was it last week? The week before. The week before was treatment week. And I got some scans. I don’t get scans every treatment week. The scans did show some progression of cancer.

…So we have to tweak the treatment plan, which we did, and the chemotherapy drugs in hopes of keeping additional progression at bay for as long as possible. The idea now is to keep it where it is or maybe have it reduce again. We’ve shown that that is possible. If it happened once, it can happen again. So that’s the objective of the current treatment plan.

…You know, all in all, I feel very blessed to be here speaking with you today. Some days are harder than others. I do get fatigued now. I do get very, very tired now. I’m not gonna mislead you about that. But I am extremely grateful to be able to come here to the studio and to maintain as much normalcy as possible — and it’s still true.

You know, I wake up every day and thank God that I did. I go to bed every night praying I’m gonna wake up. I don’t know how many of you do that, those of you who are not sick, those of you who are not facing something like I and countless other millions are. But it’s a blessing when you wake up. It’s a stop-everything-and-thank-God moment.

And every day, thus, results in me feeling more and more blessed. Hearing from you, knowing that you’re out there praying and everything else you’re doing, that is a blessing. It’s just a series of blessings. And I am grateful to be able to come here to the studio, tell you about it, and really maintain as much normalcy as I can.

I know a lot of you out there are going through your own challenges, whether it’s cancer or another medical illness or some other life challenge. Maybe even in the hospital right now. Someone told me — I think this is good advice, may be helpful — the only thing that any of us are certain of is right now, today. That’s why I thank God every morning when I wake up.

I thank God that I did. I try to make it the best day I can no matter what. I don’t look too far ahead. I certainly don’t look too far back. I try to remain committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to. I mentioned at the outset of this — the first day I told you — that I have personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is of immense value, strength, confidence, and that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to. There’s some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands. There’s a lot of fear associated with that, too, but there is some comfort. It’s helpful… God, is it helpful. It’s helpful to be able to trust and to believe in a higher plan.

So again, let me just thank all of you for your support, your prayers. I send the same to all of you through anything that you are facing. So now the objective here is rounding third, not having to head back to second base and slide in there. Here’s to rounding third and heading towards home. That’s the objective. That’s the goal.


RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, let me share one more thing with you — and I don’t want to be morbid here. But to me, this is the ultimate good news — the ultimate upbeat, positive way to react to what’s happening. Late January, whenever it was, is when I got this diagnosis. Folks, the kind of cancer I have…

I’ve never publicized what it is. It’s just stage 4 lung cancer. But let me just put it to you this way: It was hopeless. It was absolutely hopeless. Yet a treatment regimen was begun, and the first two of them failed. (chuckling) I mean, big-time failed. The third one? Magic! It worked. That’s where we were able, over the course of months, to render the cancer dormant. [‘dormant’ is his own non-clinical turn of phrase for it]

I’ll just put it to you this way: After receiving the diagnosis, I never thought I would see October 1st. I never thought I would. When October 1st hit on the calendar this year, I reminded myself of that — of that thought. If we go back to the end of January, early part of February when I was first told of my diagnosis and the reaction…

The doctor said, “If you don’t do anything, we’re looking here at a couple of months. If you look at treatment, if it works, we’re looking at…” And then they wouldn’t give me a time. They still won’t. They won’t do that. But I’m just gonna tell you, there is no way back in January and February that I had anything but hope that I would still be alive on this day, October 19th, and that I would be fully productive working.

There was no way. I didn’t share that with anybody. So given that as a starting point, given that as a baseline, I’m kicking butt — and the future remains pretty good-looking, given all of that. This is why I say that I always try to keep everything in perspective on a day-to-day basis and to realize that you just don’t know. Nobody does, and you have to give every day…

You know, I’ve loved to point out we all only get one life. We don’t get a do-over in the… Well, we do. Actually, we get a do-over every day if we choose to look at it that way. Once we’re old enough and mature enough to understand what life is and that there is only one, then you do get do-overs, an opportunity to fix what you think you might not have done so well the day before, which is an operative philosophy of mine.

But the fact that I have that option and that opportunity compared to where I thought I would be at this time? I mean, that’s “go get the hallelujah chorus and have ’em start singing to me,” because that’s exactly where this is — and the future? Far more optimistic than pessimistic, attitudinally, to me, because of the support systems I have, the people that are helping me, family. Ooh! Anyway, that’s it.