Larry King has a cautionary tale for everyone who has ever felt tempted to skip their annual physical. In July 2016, King, 83, felt just fine; he decided to keep his annual physical appointment anyway.
That decision may have saved his life. During his physical, his doctor took a chest x-ray, and what he found was shocking.
"'There’s a little cloud here…,' said his doctor related King to People.
CAT and PET scans quickly followed. Soon, King was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer.
“They said I was lucky and smart to get annual chest x-rays because lung cancer doesn’t give you any signs until it’s in late stages,” King shared. “And by then it’s too late.”
Because he caught it early, he was able to go on his two-week European speaking tour, but then King had to have surgery. They removed a malignant mass.
“They went in through my ribs with a tiny camera and snipped it out...I only had a little pain and some shortness of breath."
It took about a week for his speech to fully return, but then he went right back to his job. Because they caught the cancer early, he barely even missed a beat. He hopes the this story will inspire others to follow through on their checkups.
“When I had my heart attack and was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes [in 1987] and prostate cancer [in 1999,] I talked about it and felt that I helped a lot of people,” King says. “I want people to make sure to get annual x-rays.”
King quit smoking 30 years ago, but doctors still say his cancer stemmed from smoking three packs a day.
“I never thought it would happen to me. I saw all the warnings but I never paid attention. I loved smoking but when I had the heart attack that February of 1987 I stopped that day and never reached for one again,” he says. “It was easy for me because I got scared to death.”
King would like to stick around his five children, so he does a lot of walking and watches what he eats. People says he has hopes to live long enough to see his two youngest sons—with his eighth wife Shawn—reach their potential as baseball stars.
“I like having two teenage boys who are both baseball players. One’s 18 and was drafted by the White Sox and is going to play in college. One is 17 and is one of the best players in Southern California,” he says. “I want to see them graduate college and play pro ball. I want those things so why not take care of yourself.”
Has someone in your life had cancer? Do you think they would have been helped—or were they helped—by early detection? Let us know in the comments. In other celebrity news, an entertainment icon just passed away.