PALM BEACH, FL — One day after telling radio listeners he is suffering from advanced lung cancer, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday night during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address.
“Here tonight is a special man beloved by millions of Americans, who just received a stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis,” the president said. “This is not good news. But what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet. Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country.”
The president invited first lady Melania Trump to present the political commentator with the nation’s highest civilian honor “in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to, and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity.”
Limbaugh, who broadcasts from Palm Beach, said he realized something was wrong during the weekend of his 69th birthday on Jan. 12. He said his diagnosis was confirmed by two medical institutions Jan. 20.
“I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, and I thought about not telling anybody. I thought about trying to do this without anybody knowing, ’cause I don’t like making things about me,” Limbaugh said Monday. “But, there are going to be days that I’m not gonna be able to be here because I’m undergoing treatment or I’m reacting to treatment, and I know that that would inspire all kinds of curiosity with people wondering what’s going on.”
President Trump also tweeted his support for Limbaugh on Monday. “Many people do not know what a great guy and fantastic political talent the great Rush Limbaugh is,” the president said. “There is nobody like him. Looking for a speedy recovery for our friend!”
In 2013, Limbaugh said he began smoking cigarettes when he was 16 but quit in the early 1980s. He said he still enjoyed cigars though he claimed not to inhale.
“A cigar is not about nicotine. A cigarette’s just a nicotine-delivery system,” he said at the time. “A cigar is a refined, classic, handmade … It’s a work of art, done right. And the experience, the aroma, smoking jackets and all that? I mean, it’s nothing like smoking a cigarette.”
In a 2001 article he penned for Cigar Aficionado, Limbaugh complained that too many Americans don’t care if some constitutionally protected right or freedom, “such as smoking a cigar in a room designated for that specific purpose,” is denied another American as long as they don’t believe they are affected.
At first, he said he attributed his recent shortness of breath to asthma or a possible heart condition.
“So this has happened, and my intention is to come here every day I can and to do this program as normally, and as competently and as expertly as I do each and every day, because that is the source of my greatest satisfaction professionally, personally,” he said Monday. “I’ve had so much support from family and friends during this that it’s just been tremendous. I told the staff today that I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about.”
“The Rush Limbaugh Show” is heard on 600 radio stations by up to 27 million people each week and is the highest-rated national radio talk show in America, according to the show website.
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Limbaugh was awarded the Marconi Radio Award for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year by the National Association of Broadcasters in 1992, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2014. In 1993, he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. Five years later, he was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.