ESPN Front Row

Dick Vitale: “For the second time in just a few months, I’ve been diagnosed with a form of cancer”

Vitale reveals he has lymphoma; in August, he announced he had melanoma. In this essay, the Basketball Hall of Famer and ESPN legend shares why he is optimistic and urges the importance of early detection

Dick Vitale
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

For the second time in just a few months, I’ve been diagnosed with a form of cancer. As a result of some symptoms I’ve had in recent weeks, I’ve been undergoing tests and doctors have now confirmed it’s lymphoma.

I had announced in August that I underwent multiple surgeries to remove melanoma (which has been totally cleared), yet the doctors believe this lymphoma diagnosis is unrelated. What’s evident is that the treatment plan for this lymphoma is going to be a lot tougher, and in both cases, early detection played an important role in helping to manage the cancers.

With all that said, I consider myself very lucky. I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that cancer can have on families, on children, and on all of our loved ones. It can bring you to your knees. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting. It robs you of so many things, including life itself for some of the most unfortunate patients. I never lose sight of that, and that’s why I feel so lucky.

The plan is to treat my lymphoma with steroids and six months of chemotherapy. The medical experts tell me it has a 90-percent cure rate. They say I can continue to work so I will have to manage my work schedule around my chemo schedule as they will monitor my test results along the way.

Dick Vitale is a one-of-a-kind treasure as a broadcaster and human being. His love for family and tireless passion to help people in need, especially children, truly define his greatness. He is beloved by his ESPN family and has our full support.
— Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, and fellow V Foundation Board member

I will fight with all my heart in dealing with the chemo and want to get back stronger than ever so I can live out my promise to one of my “All Courageous” kids, Tony Colton, who passed in July 2017.

I was called by Tony to his bedside at All Children’s Hospital prior to his passing and he said to me very weakly, “Please, Mr. V., keep pleading for money for kids like me so they don’t have to suffer like this.”

I made Tony a promise, which is why I will beg and plead until my last breath. My goal is to get back to doing that more than ever, along with my fabulous teammates who work with and support The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

In my battle, I think of all the Courageous kids that I have gotten to know and I want all of them to know (after watching their battles with their cancers and handling the chemo/radiation) they inspire and motivate me to take on this biggest fight I have ever faced. I WILL DO EVERY THING IN MY POWER TO WIN THIS BATTLE!

I am lucky and blessed to have a great team of medical experts along with wonderful family support. I am also blessed to work with so many in my second family, ESPN. They have been so encouraging over the past three weeks as I’ve undergone one test after another in trying to analyze what was causing my symptoms.

If you see me, please just give me a fist bump and say a prayer that I can return from being 82 years old to acting like I’m 12. Thanks so much for your love.