Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh says he’s been diagnosed with lung cancer

National News

FILE – This Nov. 5, 2018 file photo shows radio personality Rush Limbaugh introducing President Donald Trump at the start of a campaign rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Limbaugh says he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Addressing listeners on his program Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, he said he will take some days off for further medical tests and to determine treatment. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conservative radio host and Republican kingmaker Rush Limbaugh said he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Addressing listeners on his program Monday, Limbaugh said he will take some days off for further medical tests and to determine treatment.

“I have to tell you something today that I wish I didn’t have to tell you,” announced Limbaugh, 69. The cancer diagnosis was confirmed by two medical institutions in late January after he experienced his only symptom so far, shortness of breath, on his Jan. 12 birthday weekend, he said.

He was reluctant to discuss personal matters and distract from his work, he said, and wasn’t seeking to cover up his illness. He realized it was better to be honest and avoid the speculation that would follow when he has to miss being on air for treatment or as the result of treatment, Limbaugh added.

FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2010 file photo, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh speaks during a news conference at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. Limbaugh says he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Addressing listeners on his program Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, he said he will take some days off for further medical tests and to determine treatment. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

“But it is what it is. And you know me, I’m the mayor of Realville,” he said. “My intention is to come here every day I can. And to do this program as normally” and competently as usual.

He said he considers his listeners to be part of a “family-type relationship” with him, adding that his job has given him the “greatest satisfaction and happiness” he’s experienced.

Limbaugh’s announcement comes at a tumultuous political time, as the conclusion of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial nears.

FILE – This Nov. 15, 2009 file photo shows conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh on the sideline before the start of an NFL football game between New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis. Limbaugh says he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Addressing listeners on his program Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, he said he will take some days off for further medical tests and to determine treatment. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Trump paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “Many people do not know what a great guy & fantastic political talent the great Rush Limbaugh is. There is nobody like him. Looking for a speedy recovery for our friend!”

“It’s shocking to the industry, and it should be shocking to the political establishment,” Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, the trade industry publication for talk radio, said of Limbaugh’s disclosure.

He started his first national radio show in 1988 from New York, later relocating to Palm Beach, Florida.

The hyper-partisan broadcaster has dominated talk radio with a raucous, liberal-bashing style that made him one of the most influential voices of American right-wing politics and inspired other conservative broadcasters including Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly.

“Rush you are in our prayers,” Beck tweeted. “We live in a time of modern miracles. Millions are praying you find one.”

FILE – This May 14, 2012 file photo shows radio host Rush Limbaugh speaking during a ceremony inducting him into the Hall of Famous Missourians in the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. Limbaugh says he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Addressing listeners on his program Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, he said he will take some days off for further medical tests and to determine treatment. (AP Photo/Julie Smith, File)

Limbaugh said he intends to work as much as possible. He also said he had focused more “intensely” in the past two weeks on what he called his “deeply personal relationship” with God.

The media figure’s endorsement and friendship is a conservative political treasure. His idol, Ronald Reagan, wrote a letter that Limbaugh read on the air in December 1992 and which sealed his reputation among conservatives: “You’ve become the number one voice for conservatism in our country,” Reagan wrote.

Two years later, Limbaugh would be so widely credited as key to Republicans’ takeover of Congress for the first time in 40 years, he was deemed an honorary member of the new class.

FILE – This Jan. 13, 2009 file photo shows conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh talks with former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Limbaugh says he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Addressing listeners on his program Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, he said he will take some days off for further medical tests and to determine treatment. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Limbaugh has frequently been accused of hate-filled speech, including bigotry and blatant racism through his comments and sketches such as “Barack the Magic Negro,” a song featured on his show that said Obama “makes guilty whites feel good” and that the politician is “black, but not authentically.”

His popularity has survived brickbats and thrived despite personal woes.

In 2003, Limbaugh admitted an addiction to painkillers and entered rehabilitation. Authorities opened an investigation into alleged “doctor shopping,” saying he received up to 2,000 pills from four doctors over a period of six months, but he ultimately reached a deal with prosecutors that dismissed the single charge.

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