Michael Douglas Opens Up About His Cancer Fight On Letterman

by | September 1, 2010 at 1:43 PM | Late Night, TV News

“Yeah, I got cancer,” Michael Douglas said last night to David Letterman, surprisingly casually. “I found out about it three weeks ago. I said ‘gee, just when I found out I was going to be on your show.’” Dave laughed and said “There can’t possibly be a medical connection here,” and Douglas, laughing with him, admitted he just couldn’t resist that joke.

“It’s throat,” Douglas continued, looking more like his father, Kirk Douglas, than ever before. “I’ve just finished my first week of radiation and chemo, and it’s about an eight week struggle.”

That surprised the ‘Late Show’ host, who said “You’ve never looked better to me, and this proves that you’re a tough guy,” and Douglas’ response was “let’s just say I’m pretty lit up right now.”

Watch Michael Douglas on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman.’

“It had been bothering me for a while,” he explained about how he came to know he was suffering from the affliction. “In early summer, I had a really sore throat, and I actually went through a litany of doctors and tests and didn’t find anything. Then I had a great summer after some other personal adversities and all of that. A wonderful summer with Catherine and the kids. We were in Spain – and they liked Americans this year in Europe, too. It’s nice. When we really screw up, they like us a lot more.”

“But I came back,” he continued. “I got a biopsy and they analyzed it. It’s a Stage 4, which is intense and they gotta go at it. The things that have changed, as I understand, is the chemotherapy and being able to deal with the nausea, but it knocks you out really hard.”

Politely, Dave asked for some clarification about what Stage 4 means, and Douglas was very easygoing about it. “You want to be down at Stage 1. The big thing you’re always worried about is it spreading. I am head and neck, above the neck, so nothing’s gone down. The expectations are good. It is going to cut into the foreign promotional tour for Wall Street, to say the least.”


“It’s sore, it hurts a lot, it comes in waves,” he said. “My heart goes out to all the families and all the supporters there. Now I understand it.”

Dave expressed gratitude that, despite this, Douglas still came on the show, and asked if they found it early enough. Douglas’ response was unflinchingly honest. “I sure as sh-t hope so.”

At the end of the interview, after Douglas candidly explained how his kids are going to take interesting projects to school this year about visiting a federal prison for their brother and radiology experiences for their father, Dave said “I feel like I want to do something for you. Can I do something for you?”

All Douglas wanted was a hug, and even the normally not-touchy Letterman couldn’t say no to that.