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Curt Schilling

I Have Mouth Cancer

... Blames Chewing Tobacco

8/20/2014 6:46 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

Former MLB pitching great Curt Schilling says he was diagnosed with mouth cancer back in February ... and believes it was caused from his 30-year habit of chewing tobacco. 

The former Boston Red Sox pitcher says he stayed quiet about the diagnosis for months for two reasons -- he didn't want people to pity him and he didn't want to get into the chewing tobacco debate.

Still, 47-year-old Schilling says ... "I'll go to my grave believing that [chewing tobacco] was why I got what I got ... absolutely, no question in my mind about that."

Schilling says he learned about the cancer only after seeing a doctor about a dog bite wound on his finger -- and felt a lump in his neck. 

He got it checked out -- and it turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma ... aka mouth cancer. 

Schilling says he went through several weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments -- and says the whole thing hurt like hell. 

"The pain that I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day it was the only thing in my life that had that I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful." For more sports stories, check out tmzsports.com!

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