Terry Bradshaw Explains His Decision To Keep Cancer Battles Private: “I Didn’t Want Pity”

The legendary quarterback discussed a year of fighting two forms of cancer as well as his decision to keep the public in the dark for so long.

Terry Bradshaw

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A month after he revealed his secret battle with two forms of cancer, Terry Bradshaw sat down with Today to discuss his decision to keep his diagnoses from the public.

“I didn’t talk about it because I didn’t want pity," the 74-year-old Hall of Famer told NBC News correspondent Harry Smith. "I didn’t talk about it because a lot of celebrities— unfortunately, I’m one of those—when they say this, I think the perception around America with all the millions of people is, ‘Aw, look at him. Bless his heart. He has cancer. Well, my husband died of cancer! My kids are…’ I didn’t want that.”

"Took me a long time before I told my family," Bradshaw added.

It was after he had trouble breathing while co-hosting an episode of Fox NFL Sunday that he decided to share his story.

“I couldn’t breathe," Bradshaw recalled. “That’s when everybody notices. ‘What’s wrong with him?’ Social media went, ‘Get rid of him. He needs to be off the air. He’s an embarrassment.’ And I was like, 'Embarrassment? I got cancer.'"

Shortly after, on October 2, Bradshaw told audiences the truth. He’d been diagnosed with and cured of bladder cancer and skin cancer within a single year. 

"Folks, I may not look like my old self, but I feel like my old self," the Louisiana-native said. "I'm cancer-free, I'm feeling great and over time, I'm going to be back to where I normally am.”

Despite his health problems, the four-time Super Bowl champion said he "never was scared."

Bradshaw said it never occurred to him that his fame or past successes could help him.

“I don’t think cancer cares. Cancer shows no favoritism,” he said. “As a man of faith, as a Christian, my attitude was, well if I go, I’m OK, and if I stay, I’m OK.”

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