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Edward James Olmos reveals he’s recovering from throat cancer: ‘A very strong disease’

The actor recently revealed his throat cancer diagnosis. "I’ve been through some experiences that have gotten me close to death, but that was really close."
/ Source: TODAY

Edward James Olmos opened up for the first time about his battle with throat cancer.

The 76-year-old actor discussed his diagnosis and the road to recovery with radio host Mando Fresko on an episode of the Mando & Friends podcast released on May 25.

“I’ll be very honest with you, I haven’t told anyone ... this is the first time publicly I’ll be coming out and saying it, but I had throat cancer,” the Oscar nominee told Fresko.

Olmos is known for his roles in movies including “Selena” and “Stand and Deliver,” as well as TV shows such as “Battlestar Galactica” and “Miami Vice.”

“I just finished getting through it, December 20, (2022), was my last radiation and the week before I’d finished my chemo,” he said.

Olmos explained that he received radiation and chemotherapy for “months and months” to attack the cancer cells in his throat. “I still have a bump where my lymph nodes, they burned them out,” Olmos added, pointing to his throat. “Because they shot this area with radiation.”

Throat cancer refers to several types of cancers which affect one or more parts of the throat — the most common types are laryngeal cancer (affecting the voice box) and oropharyngeal cancer (affecting the middle of the throat), according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Men are more likely to develop throat cancer than women, per the Cleveland Clinic, and risk factors include tobacco use (smoking or chewing), excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and human papillomavirus (HPV).

While Olmos did not specify his type of throat cancer, he went into detail about some of the darkest moments of his treatment.

The actor recounted how five doctors warned him that his voice may never be the same after treatment. “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 going to sound like,” said Olmos.

“(They said) we’re shooting your vocal cords. We’re shooting your throat where you eat, where you swallow, where you talk, breathe,” he recalled. “It becomes the hardest place to shoot, to use radiation and chemo.”

“A lot of my friends have passed because of this ... It’s a very strong disease ... cancer is, period. But in the throat, it is really difficult,” Olmos said.

The actor said there were certain times during treatment when his body gave up.

“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, and I said no, I don’t want to do that,” he said.

“They had to get 2,500 calories into my body every day ... That was ridiculous. That was so hard,” said Olmos, adding that he required intravenous fluids because he couldn’t drink water. He said he lost a total of 55 pounds during the ordeal.

‘“I’ve been through some experiences that have gotten me close to death. But that was really close,” he said.

Fortunately, Olmos is on the road to recovery. He credited his commitment to exercising daily and staying in good physical shape for “saving his life.”

“One of the things that I did, which I was very thankful for and stood out, was my condition to fight this,” he said. “I was in good condition, and I still am.”

Lately, Olmos said he has been swimming seven days a week — “at least a mile, sometimes two miles a day” — as well as rowing and lifting weights to gain back the muscle he lost during treatment.

Reflecting on his cancer battle, Olmos said: “It was an experience that changed me totally, the understanding of how wonderful this life is.”