Cancer surgery to sideline Terri Hemmert

Terri Hemmert (Photo: Abel Uribe)

Terri Hemmert (Photo: Abel Uribe)

Terri Hemmert, the Radio Hall of Famer and revered Chicago broadcasting treasure, said Thursday she’ll be sidelined from WXRT FM 93.1 to deal with cancer surgery and treatment.

Hemmert, 67, now in her 42nd year at the CBS Radio album adult alternative station, told her midday listeners she recently was diagnosed with an early stage of cancer she chose not to specify. After Friday’s show, Hemmert said she expects to be out for four to six weeks.

“Nobody wants to hear the C-word, but I feel really confident I’ve got a great doctor and staff,” she said in an interview. “I’ve dealt with [the hospital] before, and they’ve done really right by me. And I caught it early, so I’m optimistic on that front too.”

Hemmert said she plans to keep friends and fans updated with frequent posts on her Facebook page. “Without being preachy, I want to try to make it a vehicle about people going to get checked out. If you have a funky symptom, go see your doctor. That’s what I did, and boy, am I glad I did.”

In addition to her midday show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, Hemmert also hosts “Breakfast with the Beatles” from 8 to 10 a.m. Sundays. She said she plans she plans to tape the next four weeks of Beatles shows in one-hour versions before her surgery Monday.

Hemmert was sidelined for six weeks in 2014 for knee replacement surgery. Her convalescence drew thousands of well-wishes from fans and friends.

Here is the statement Hemmert shared with listeners Thursday:

I have some news. Last year I had a knee replaced and was doing well with a lot of help from my excellent physical therapists. But I was still in pain that made it difficult to walk (and I love to walk!). Turns out I have spinal stenosis and was hoping for surgery to fix that this month. Well, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I went to my doctor with a symptom that needed to be checked out. After going through a bunch of tests I had some polyps removed in November. They were benign, and I went right from the hospital to my favorite Mexican restaurant. Things seemed fine. Until I found out I have cancer. I went in for my follow up appointment just a couple days before Thanksgiving. Thought it would be high fives for the surgery. The bad news was that they found cancer behind the polyps. The good news is it’s early. . . Stage One. More good news is I have a great medical team who didn’t give up testing. Tomorrow will be my last show for awhile. I’ll be going in for surgery Monday, and will need at least a month to recuperate. I asked if they could just flip me over and do the back surgery while I was there, but that’s not possible. Doesn’t hurt to ask. Beginning this Sunday “Breakfast With The Beatles” will be one hour long, from 9 to 10 a.m. I didn’t want to leave you without at least an hour of the fabs. Back to two hours when I get back to work.

Cancer is the scariest word in our language. It is also a wake up call. It’s a reminder to get to the doctor every year and when your body is trying to tell you something. It’s a reminder that every day of life is precious. It’s a reminder that we get by with a little help from our friends. I’ve got this. You’ve got my back. How can I lose? My family, co-workers at XRT and friends have been incredible and will help me through this. And you, my friends on the radio, can help me by keeping in touch. I’ll be posting updates on my Facebook page. You can reach me there. You can also send out good thoughts, and if you believe in prayer, I’d appreciate that. My faith has taught me over the years that you don’t pray for magic tricks and easy answers. You pray that you have the strength to handle what ever comes your way.

I was a sickly child, in and out of hospitals. My main source of inspiration was my favorite baseball player, Roy Campanella. I read his book about dealing with the auto accident that put him in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. The book is called It’s Good To Be Alive. I was 13 when I read that book . . . just before I was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. His story informed me how to handle that life changer. I learned to be grateful for family, friends and health care professionals. I learned to keep my sense of humor. Roy continues to be my mentor. With your support I’ll continue to be grateful, and keep my sense of humor.

I look forward to getting back to work with my family here at XRT. I look forward to coming back to serve the most remarkable radio audience a DJ could hope for. Thanks for your love and prayers. I’m grateful more than I can say.