Richard Simmons reveals skin cancer diagnosis following series of cryptic social media posts

Richard Simmons reveals skin cancer diagnosis following series of cryptic social media posts

Richard Simmons has revealed he was diagnosed with skin cancer, just days after concerning fans with a message about dying.

The TV fitness icon, 75, shared a Facebook post on Tuesday 19 March with an update about his health. In the lengthy message, Simmons explained how he had discovered a “strange looking bump” underneath his right eye and decided to call his dermatologist.

“I sat in his chair and he looked at it through a magnifying mirror. He told me he would have to scrape it and put it under the microscope. Now I am getting a little bit nervous,” the fitness personality wrote. “He comes back about 20 minutes later and says the C word. ‘You have cancer.’ I asked him what kind of cancer and he said, ‘Basel [sic] cell carcinoma.’ I told him to stop calling me dirty names. He laughed.”

Simmons jokingly wrote how the dermatologist suggested he received some botox injections while he was paying a visit to the office, to which Simmons replied: “Not today doctor.”

He then scheduled an appointment with Dr Ralph A Massey, a dermatologic and skin cancer surgeon, who detailed to Simmons the next steps needed to treat his skin cancer. “He explained that he has to burn my skin to remove the cancer cells. There was no numbing, it just had to be done with a small instrument,” Simmons recalled. “As he started burning my skin a tear dropped down my cheek. You can’t cry during this and he wiped my tear. The burning really hurt my skin. It lasted about 30 minutes.”

Simmons was instructed to “come back in an hour and a half” to see if it had successfully been removed. After “driving around the city,” he returned to Dr Massey’s office and received “some sad news” that the cancer hadn’t been entirely taken out.

“He burned my face again. This time was worse than before… it was deeper. I did not cry this time but I did grit my teeth,” Simmons wrote, concluding his post with the cliffhanger: “... to be continued…”

His skin cancer announcement comes just one day after Simmons concerned fans with a Facebook post claiming that he was dying. Earlier this week, he began a message to his social media followers: “I have some news to tell you. Please don’t be sad. I am… dying. Oh I can see your faces now. The truth is we all are dying. Everyday we live we are getting closer to our death.”

The post appeared to be encouraging others to make “healthy” lifestyle changes, including breakfast and dinner suggestions, as well as workout tips for “cardio and strength”.

“There is something else very important that you must do. Tell the ones that you love that you love them. Hug those people and children who you really care for. A big hug really goes a long way,” Simmons added.

However, he later apologised for the “confusion” his post had caused and assured fans that he wasn’t dying. “Sorry many of you have gotten upset about my message today. Even the press has gotten in touch with me. I am not dying,” Simmons wrote in a follow-up post. “It was a message about saying how we should embrace every day that we have. Sorry for this confusion.”

There has been much speculation surrounding the once-prevalent TV fitness instructor, who hasn’t made a public appearance since 2014. In 1974, Simmons became a public figure after he opened a fitness studio, called The Anatomy Asylum before being rebranded as Slimmons, in Los Angeles. He went on to do several appearances on American radio and TV talk shows, including the Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Late Show with David Letterman.

Amid concerns over his wheareabouts, Simmons gave a phone interview to the Today show to deny he was being held hostage by his housekeeper in 2016. He has also repeatedly stated he has simply chosen to live a life away from the spotlight.

Most recently, Simmons denounced a new biopic about his life starring comedian Pauly Shore. He clarified that he had not signed off on the project and reiterated his desire to “live a quiet life and be peaceful”.