Richard Simmons reveals skin cancer diagnosis after post about death

Days after the fitness expert worried fans with a cryptic Facebook post, Simmons shared he was treated for basal cell carcinoma.
Richard Simmons is shown.
Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 20, 2024

Days after scaring fans by saying he was "dying" — then later apologizing for the "confusion" his misleading post caused — Richard Simmons has revealed he was treated for skin cancer years ago. 

The eccentric fitness personality opened up about his diagnosis in a series of posts on Facebook, later writing his intent in doing so was to encourage viewers to get any spots on their bodies checked out by a doctor.

That advice is what led the 75-year-old to learn he had basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

The slow-growing skin cancer can occasionally be mistaken for a pimple or scar, but if a doctor determines the spot contains cancerous basal cells, it can often be easily treated and cured, the AADA says. This is the process Simmons went through, according to his posts. 

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Patient in a doctor's office.

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On Tuesday, Simmons wrote that he first went to the dermatologist after noticing a "strange looking bump" under his right eye that wouldn't go away. There, his doctor scraped it off to examine it under a microscope. 

"Now I am getting a little bit nervous," Simmons wrote on Facebook. "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 Cell Carcinoma. I told him to stop calling me dirty names. He laughed."

Simmons said he then went to a specialist to have the cancer cells burned off, but the first and second attempts an hour-and-a-half apart did not succeed in fully removing them, he wrote before telling fans the story was "to be continued." 

Then Wednesday, Simmons posted again, this time writing it wasn't until after the third session that his doctor was able to stitch his face up, check the rest of his body for concerning marks and then tell him, "I don't want to see you back here again."

Simmons didn't say exactly when this happened, but later Wednesday, he said it was "so many years ago," adding "I guess I should be more careful about what I write about."

The comment seems to be a nod to his Sunday Facebook post that initially worried fans about his health. In it, the fitness coach said, "I have some news to tell you. Please don't be sad. I am … dying." The post continued with Simmons telling viewers to "enjoy your life to the fullest every single day" and giving nutrition and fitness advice. 

Then Monday, he apologized for upsetting those to whom he gave the wrong impression. 

"I am not dying," the post read. "It was a message about saying how we should embrace every day that we have. Sorry for this confusion."

As for his cancer, it's unclear if that was the only time he's been treated. Though his cancer was removed, it can return and is more likely to if the patient doesn't practice recommended self-care, the AADA says. This includes regularly checking your skin for irregular marks, keeping up dermatology appointments and staying out of UV light while unprotected. This includes the sun and indoor tanning beds or equipment, both of which are the top causes of basal cell carcinoma.