Even though Dick Vitale must remain silent, his texts are clear and clear: he is still “an awesome baby”

The irony of Vitale’s situation is hard to miss, and he acknowledged in a text chat Thursday that the circumstances aren’t easy, a frankness he shares in his frequent and detailed health updates on the networks. social.

But there is a heartwarming, albeit small, realization when you read his verbatim words. You hear them in Vitale’s voice, and vividly.

“I used the theory my mom and dad taught me as a kid when I lost sight in my left eye that I can’t pass up [anything] stop me from chasing my dreams,” he wrote. “My parents had an elementary education but a DOCTORATE IN LOVE! I’m just following their advice from years ago and doing everything in my power to win these battles.

“Luckily I have a great support TEAM with an amazing wife of 50 and my daughters live five minutes from us. They have been by my side during chemotherapy treatments, scans, blood tests, etc. Plus, I have great doctors who handle my challenges.

Vitale was quick to notice at the start of our four-text exchange, which included 852 words in response to my questions, that what he faced “cannot be compared to what many others face.” But Vitale faced a lot and he needed all his famous optimism.

Last August he revealed he had been diagnosed with melanoma over the summer but did not have cancer. In October, another cancer struck: he was diagnosed with lymphoma and also required surgery for a bile duct blockage that same month.

Dick Vitale (right) with Dr. Steven Zeitels at Massachusetts General Hospital in January.Courtesy of Dick Vitale

Vitale missed the start of the college basketball season while undergoing chemotherapy, but made an emotional comeback to call the game between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 UCLA in November. But in December he announced he would be taking extended leave after a visit with Zeitels revealed he had precancerous dysplasia and ulcerative lesions on his vocal cords. At the end of January, three weeks before his possible three-hour vocal cord surgery, he admitted he could not return this season.

“The past few months have presented me with real challenges,” he wrote. “[The cancer treatments] were made worse by vocal cord surgery that left me unable to do what I love, sitting on the court talking about college basketball.

“I have always tried in life to look at the glass half full and not half empty. For years I have given many motivational speeches and have always emphasized how vital it is to be mentally tough in tough times. Tried to use that with what I had to do.

“The fans and certainly all of my family, friends and 2nd family – all of my colleagues at ESPN – have lifted my spirits with their many prayers and the love they send constantly.”

Vitale, who still posts daily motivational advice videos on Twitter that he recorded in the weeks leading up to his surgery, has a crucial medical visit on Monday.

“My MARCH MADNESS personally starts on Monday because I have to do more than an hour PET SCAN [PET stands for positron emission tomography] it will determine the state of my cancer,” he wrote. “It will also indicate if & where I should continue chemotherapy. Yes, as many cancer patients know, this is a time of great anxiety.

He returns to Boston on March 16 for a visit with Zeitels to analyze his progress since his vocal cord surgery, and it could clarify whether he can return for the 2022-23 college basketball season. He takes comfort knowing he couldn’t be in better hands. Zeitels is world famous and performed the singer Adele’s vocal cord surgery in 2011.

“Starting with my head coach, Dr. Z, who is the Larry Bird of the vocal cords, and everyone in the hospital was an AWESOME BABY with a capital A,” Vitale texted, using the one of his catchphrases that has long been a part of college basketball. lexicon. “I pray for good news with the Pet Scan and Dr. Zeitels’ examination.”

Even as he faces his own frightening challenges, Vitale thinks of others. His annual Dick Vitale Gala, scheduled for May 6 in Sarasota, Fla., raises money for childhood cancer research through the V Foundation for Cancer Research, named after his late friend and ESPN colleague. Jim Valvano. Last year, the event raised $6.5 million. The goal this year is $7 million. Donations can be made on its website, dickvitale.cm.

“I wanted to be candid about my situation because I wanted people to have a real understanding of what the journey is like trying to win the cancer battle you’re facing,” he wrote. “It’s constant visits for blood tests, scans, chemotherapy treatments and, in my case, injections 24 hours after chemotherapy called neupogen. As cancer patients who need to be vaccinated can tell you, they can produce severe bone pain for 72 hours, which I had recently.

Vitale may not be allowed to speak at this time. But you can practically hear his famous voice when you read his lyrics. And these are words that need to be heard.

“I want people to realize how much research oncologists need money to find new drugs to beat this dreaded disease. And everyday I think of the message from my late friend Jimmy V.” Don’t give up. NEVER GIVE UP.”


Chad Finn can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.

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