Edward James Olmos is sharing his throat cancer diagnosis publicly for the first time.
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The 76-year-old actor recently appeared on the Mando & Friends podcast, hosted by Mando Fresko, where he shared that “This would be the first time publicly I’ll be coming out and saying it, but I had throat cancer.”
He went on to talk about how his final round of radiation took place last year. “I just finished getting through it. December 20 was my last radiation. The week before, I’d finished my chemo and [for] months and months I was on radiation and chemo as it attacked my throat,” he continued.
“I still have right here [on my throat] a bump where my lymph nodes, they burned them out because they shot this area with radiation,” the actor added.
Olmos continued his honest discussion, and recalled how his medical team had told him that they weren’t certain what his voice would sound like after his cancer treatment.
“The doctors would say — I had five doctors — the doctors would say right before I started, ‘There’s only one thing we have to tell you, we do not know what you’re gonna sound like,’ ” he shared. “I said, ‘What?!’ “
Olmos went on to talk about the details of his treatment. “We’re shooting your vocal cords, we’re shooting your throat; where you eat, where you swallow, where you talk, breathe, everything goes through here.”
“So we’re shooting it. And it becomes the hardest place to shoot, to use radiation and chemo,” he continued, adding: “A lot of my friends have passed because of this. It’s a very strong disease.”
Healing and Restoring
The actor mentioned that the disease “took a lot” out of him. He lost 55 pounds, as well as all of his muscle. He’s been working on regaining his strength for the past several months.
“I was in good condition — and I still am,” he shared. “I swim a mile a day at least, sometimes two miles a day. Every day, seven days a week. And then I row and I do weights.”
“There were times in the months that I was undergoing the treatments that the body gives up. And I didn’t want to take my food through my stomach. They wanted to put tubes in and feed me nutrients because I couldn’t swallow. They had to get 2,500 calories into my body every day. That was ridiculous, that was so hard,” he concluded.
“It was an experience that changed me, the understanding of how wonderful this life is,” he continued. “I’ve been through some experiences that have gotten me close to death, but that was close.”