Former MLB Star Curt Schilling Warns Teens About Dangers of Chewing Tobacco
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Former star pitcher Curt Schilling wrote a moving plea this past weekend asking his teen self not to make the mistake of getting hooked on chewing tobacco. Published in The Players’ Tribune, Schilling's “Letter to My Former Self” reads as an appeal to all teens to avoid the habit, which led to Schilling’s battle with cancer.
“Tomorrow at lunch, a kid is going to dare you to take a dip of Copenhagen,” he writes. “If you say yes, like I did, you’ll be addicted for the rest of your life. Well, the rest of your life up to the point when you are diagnosed with cancer.”
Schilling, 48, revealed last February that he was suffering from mouth cancer, which he attributed to his years of addiction to chewing tobacco, beginning when he was a kid. Today, the cancer is in remission, but he still experiences repercussions.
The former Diamonds and Red Sox pitcher doesn’t mince his words in terms of the long-term effects of the condition: “You will develop sores, you will lose your sense of taste and smell,” he warns. “You will develop lesions. You will lose your gums — they will rot. You will have problems with your teeth for the rest of your life.”
He mentions other baseball greats like Joe Garagiola and Bill Tuttle, both who contracted mouth cancer from chewing tobacco. Tuttle lost part of his face before dying from the disease.
Schilling nods to the severity of addiction, describing how hard it was to quit the habit even after he began bleeding from his gums. “You will get message after message, but your addiction will always win, until it wins the biggest battle.”
Ultimately, he says the biggest risk he took could lead to him dying and abandoning his wife and four kids. “If cancer kills you, what are you leaving them with? What are you leaving them for?”