The Chicago Cubs had been eliminated from the playoffs on Friday. A day earlier it was the Chicago White Sox. Yet WMVP-AM 1000 sports talk host Marc Silverman sent “Waddle & Silvy” listeners into the weekend on a high note.
A month after completing a series of chemotherapy treatments, Sllverman said Friday that his doctor confirmed his cancer is in full remission.
It’s not an all-clear. But it’s as good an outcome as could be hoped for the ESPN 1000 afternoon drive-time co-host, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma six months ago.
“My scan’s clean and now I get a free three months without seeing a doctor, knock on wood, hopefully,” Silverman said later by phone. "Then I go back to the doctor in three months, and in six months I get another scan.
“We’re hoping that in five years, I’ll be ‘cured,’ but for now you check in and you do these scans.”
Being passive is not exactly Silverman’s forte, so waiting to see if his body betrays him is trying in ways his six three-week treatment cycles for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were not.
“During the fight, you know your back’s up against the wall and you have no choice but to be positive,” he said. “Now the worry in me sort of lingers. It’s a screwed-up thing. … But this was the goal. It’s a dream come true compared to where I was in May.”
Silverman hadn’t planned a “Friday night news dump” regarding his health. It just worked out that way.
“I was waiting all week to have a full show, but we’ve been carrying playoff baseball and I never wanted to make it about me after some of these games when we had short shows,” he said. “So I never really got to it until (Friday), and I got to the end of the show because we were so heated about the Cubs.”
Silverman wanted to share the good news because it’s important his audience knows how much they have helped him through this ordeal, along with his colleagues, family and friends.
Being able to join co-host Tom Waddle, his on-air partner since 2007, from his suburban home while all this has gone on has been a welcome distraction, restorative ...
“... Therapeutic, cathartic, whatever the right term would be,” Silverman said. “Everybody kept saying to me, ‘Oh my God, Silvy, you’re a role model! You’re an inspiration!’ But I needed it more than anything. I needed to do what I love to do. I needed to be on the air.”
Isolated amid the COVID-19 pandemic to the point where he hasn’t been able to hug his mother since before his diagnosis, the support of listeners has been its own form of medicine.
By himself at the infusion center during his tri-weekly treatments, the #SilvyStrong hashtag and all the encouragement behind it was always close.
“I’d be sitting in the chair and I’d be alone and I’d have my headphones on for five or six hours, and I’d be getting these tweets from people knowing it was a Friday and I was going through all of this,” he said.
Silverman could watch the build-up of contributions to The V Foundation for Cancer Research through sales of “Silvy Strong” T-shirts and masks, some designed by 6-year-old son Mason, which at last check were around $7,000 of his $50,000 fundraising goal.
“I needed to be distracted,” Silverman said. “I needed everything. I needed the listeners more than anything and I needed my teammates.”
His hairline took a hit during the treatments, but he didn’t lose his appetite or feel sick — just tired. That’s increased lately, which his doctor told him is normal.
“I was very lucky,” Silverman said. “And the only silver lining of going through this with COVID (out there) is it was almost looked upon as normal doing the show from home.
"If this wasn’t during (the pandemic) and I was going through cancer treatment, I would probably be driving myself up and back downtown every day, and that would have taxed my body even more.”
Silverman also has been a beneficiary of the Imerman Angels, a non-profit that connected him with a cancer survivor to counsel him when he needed it. He has been able to lean on friends who have been there before, too, such as Chicago Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olczyk and ABC-7 meteorologist Tracy Butler.
The idea of paying it forward appeals to Silverman, whose show Wednesday ended with him encouraging an emotional listener from Minneapolis who follows the show via stream.
The man said his father had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that afternoon, and with his girlfriend at work, he didn’t know who else to call. He also promised to talk to the caller and father off-air.
“If you were to talk to a late 20s Marc Silverman, I probably didn’t value relationships as much as I should have,” Silverman said, reflecting days later on all he’s been through the last few months. “But into my 40s — and now I’m a year away from 50 — I’ve valued any relationship I’ve had more, and this just takes it to the nth-degree. It makes any relationship I’ve had and kept that much more special.”
That includes his relationships with the teams he has followed through their highs and many lows, such as the way 2020 Chicago baseball season ended.
“A friend texted after they saw the tweet (about remission), ‘You can’t possibly bitch about the Cubs after that.’ Yeah, I can,” Silverman said. “I’m still going to keep my sports perspective and my life perspective. It’s still OK to get mad over sports.”
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