Michael Irvin is PLEADING with Americans to find a cure for cancer ... 'cause the NFL Hall of Famer tells TMZ Sports just the fear of having it alone "paralyzed" him.
"Think about that. I was paralyzed with fear. And, I just lived with the fear of it," Irvin told us hours after learning of his cancer-free diagnosis.
"We are too great of a country with the smartest people in the world -- we gotta do something to come up with a cure for this."
Irvin spent most of last week terrified he might have throat cancer after doctors were concerned about the way he lost his voice for a lengthy period of time during the NFL season.
But, Irvin got good news Sunday -- docs told him he was cancer-free ... and now, he's campaigning harder than ever for Americans to come up with a career for the deadly disease.
"Everybody has somebody that's gone through cancer in their life and they know the way it ravishes a body and ravishes a family and tears it apart."
As for his scare ... Irvin tells us he couldn't have been more grateful for the outpouring of support he received, saying, "I just thank God for all the people that were so kind out there, man."
"And the prayers, they were answered. And, I'm just so blessed and thankful."