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Dick Vitale, free of cancer, speaks for the first time in months during emotional X post

Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy greets basketball sportscaster Dick Vitale, right, before Game 2 in an AL wild-card baseball playoff series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, in St. Petersburg.
John Raoux
/
AP
Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy greets basketball sportscaster Dick Vitale, right, before Game 2 in an AL wild-card baseball playoff series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, in St. Petersburg.

The Lakewood Ranch resident and legendary ESPN basketball broadcaster says he hopes to be back on the air in late November after completing radiotherapy for vocal cord cancer.

Lakewood Ranch resident Dick Vitale spoke publicly this week for the first time in seven months after the Hall of Fame basketball broadcaster was diagnosed with cancer in his vocal cords.

And he delivered good news: He appears to be cancer-free after undergoing radiation and other procedures for the disease.

“I am emotional. I am excited. I didn’t speak, now you have to understand, for seven months. You’re the first people hearing my voice in a long, long time,” Vitale, 84, said in a video posted Tuesday on X.

Sitting next to Vitale during the video was Dr. Steven Zeitels, the Boston laryngeal specialist who treated his cancer, who said he “saw no evidence of the cancer whatsoever” and that Vitale’s tissues had healed.

“We are going to watch this for a while,” he added. “Given the remarkable recovery [Vitale] has had in the last few weeks, the best pathway now is patience.”

Zeitels also said Vitale could resume using his voice, which the usually gregarious sportscaster said would be done in “moderation" as he planned a return for his 45th season with ESPN on Nov. 28.

I’m planning on doing my first game, Miami at Kentucky,” he said. “I hope and pray I can be there.”

This is Vitale’s third cancer fight since 2021, after previously surviving lymphoma and melanoma. He announced the latest diagnosis in July and completed radiation treatments in September.

“It’s been tough. It’s been tough,” he said, holding back tears. “But, boy, I just say have faith, think positive, and I’ve tried to do that. God bless all of you.”

Vitale was a 2008 inductee in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A basketball coach before his TV career began in 1979, he hosts an annual pediatric cancer fundraiser in Sarasota for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a nonprofit founded by college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993.

Although unable to speak, Vitale has been active during treatment. He remained a regular at Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg and last week attended the Tampa Bay Lightning's season opener in Tampa.

At the hockey game, he took part in a ceremonial puck drop with other sports Hall of Famers from the Tampa Bay region shortly after posting on social media that he was scheduled to have scopes to determine if his 35 radiation treatments “wiped out” his cancer.

In August 2021, Vitale announced he beat melanoma after several surgeries. About two months later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent several weeks of chemotherapy at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. In April 2022, he announced he was cancer-free.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.
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