"I do believe, without a doubt, unquestionably that chewing was what gave me cancer," the former major league pitcher says

Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty

Curt Schilling has revealed he battled mouth cancer – and blames decades of chewing tobacco use.

The former Diamondbacks and Red Sox pitcher discussed details of his fight against the disease Wednesday in Boston as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon.

“I do believe, without a doubt, unquestionably that chewing was what gave me cancer,” Schilling, 47, says of his squamous cell carcinoma diagnosis back in February.

“I’m not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing. I will say this: I did for about 30 years. It was an addictive habit. I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds. I had gum issues, they bled … None of it was enough to ever make me quit. The pain that I was in going through this treatment … I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful.”

After seven weeks of chemotherapy, radiation and a 75 lb. weight loss, Schilling was declared cancer-free in late June.

“I’m in remission,” the three-time World Series champion explains. “It’s the recovery that’s a challenge because there are so many things that are damaged during the process. I don’t have any salivary glands, I can’t taste anything and I can’t smell anything right now. And there’s no guarantee they’ll come back.”

As he continues to recuperate, Schilling says he appreciates the compassion shown by fans – but doesn’t want their sympathy.

“I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I didn’t want the pity … I thought, ‘You know what, this could be so much worse. It could be one of my kids – it’s not. I’m the one guy in my family that can handle this.’ So from that perspective, I never, ever said, ‘Why me?’ And I never will.”

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