Robin Quivers, wingwoman to Howard Stern on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show, announced on Monday her yearlong battle with bladder cancer, which she has now won, according to her doctors.
The 61-year-old longtime sidekick cryptically revealed on the show in May 2012 her decision to have “a procedure” to remove a grapefruit-sized growth from her pelvis. The growth turned out to be a cancerous mass, which caused Quivers to spend the ensuing year recovering from her home, where she continued to do the radio show until reentering the studio Monday.
“I gotta be honest, I thought she was a goner,” Stern told listeners, adding that he still gets chills hearing Quivers’ story. “I can’t tell you how dire everything seemed.”
Bladder cancer is most often characterized by traces of blood in a person’s urine, known as hematuria. The traces are not always visible to the naked eye; microscopic hematuria renders it detectable only via a microscope. Other symptoms of the cancer include frequent urination, painful urination, or feeling the need to urinate without the ability to do so. In one 2000 study, tobacco smoking was the main contributor in bladder cancer patients half the time in men and one-third of the time in women.
Stern said that if Quivers ever had to leave the show, he would leave as well. The 59-year-old host added that Quivers was often a source of comfort for him in the studio.
"She was my backbone, you understand. Where I would lose courage, Robin always had the courage. She always is the brave one. Always the brave one with me. I could go to her, and I could always rely on her."
Quivers relayed a similar sentiment about the show, saying that it acted as something of a salve for her during her battle. “It never occurred to me not to be on the air,” said the co-host, whose treatment included radiation and chemotherapy for a cancer that started on the endometrial tissue of her uterus. Doctors told her three months ago that she was “cured.”
“When I was on the air, I was pain-free,” she said.
The survival rate for bladder cancer depends on the stage at which it’s detected. There are five stages, each measured with a relative five-year survival rate. Stage 0 carries a 98 percent survival rate over five years, meaning 98 percent of people with stage 0 cancer live at least five years after finding their cancer. Of course, many people live longer than five years; relative rates make room for people who die of separate causes. Stage 4 cancer carries a 15 percent relative five-year survival rate. No word has been made yet as to Quivers’ stage.
In her time absent from the studio, Quivers missed only two shows. In that time, she underwent two surgeries and months of radiation and chemotherapy.
"I'll f***ing kill you if you have cancer," said Stern last May when he heard the news. "I'm not doing the show without you… I'm quitting if you're not doing the show."
"Oh, don't make me cry," she replied.