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Update and Email For Benny Parsons


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Last week SI writer Richard Deitsch interviewed Benny Parsons for the magazine's Q&A. The 65-year-old NBC and TNT NASCAR analyst won 21 races in his career as a driver, including the 1975 Daytona 500. Here are additional excerpts from the interview:

SI: You recently received a diagnosis of lung cancer. How did you know that something was wrong?

Parsons: I'd try to take a couple of stairs rather than an elevator just to get that little bit of exercise, and it got to the point where I'd be at the top of stairs saying, Man, I'm out of breath. I blamed it on the summer ozone because I have been taking allergy shots for 18 years. Finally, I thought I'd better check this out. We've all had conversations about cancer, but all of a sudden [my doctor] was talking about me. It was the most surreal feeling.

SI: You last smoked in 1978?

Parsons: Yep.

SI: Were you a heavy smoker before 1978

Parsons: I was not a light smoker. I probably smoked a pack a day.

SI: Did your doctors tell you the cancer is a result of smoking?

Parsons: They don't know, but I'll say two things: No. 1, everyone I tell that I have lung cancer, it doesn't matter who I tell, medical people, friends, casual acquaintances, strangers, the first question they ask is do you smoke or did you ever smoke? The second thing is if I had to blame anything for this problem my guess is it would be asbestos. In the '60s I worked at a gas station on a fleet of taxi cabs. Breaks would not last very long on these cabs. We had to replace them every 5,000 miles. In the '60s friction lining on break shoes was asbestos. So when I took those drums off that dust would be a quarter of an inch deep and I would take an air hose and blow all that stuff off. So every week I was exposed to asbestos dust. That would be my guess.

SI: What is your treatment schedule like?

Parsons: I started on July 26 and I do three straight days of chemotherapy every three weeks. The radiation will be five days a week.

SI: Will you remain in the booth during your treatments?

Parsons: As long as I am able, I will.

SI: Are you staying positive?

Parsons: Practically every person I talk to, be it medical people, friends, casual acquaintances or strangers, they all say a positive attitude when it comes to this is everything. If you feel like you can win, you've got a much better chance. I am a positive guy and all of the doctors I've seen have told me the same thing: We have a chance to win.

SI: You make your living with your voice. Does your voice hurt?

Parsons: It does not hurt a bit. They say that I may end up with some irritation in my throat and my voice may be affected.

SI: There's an e-mail address -- bp@goprn.com -- where fans can send words of encouragement. Thousands have, right?

Parsons: Ain't it cool? A couple of thousand people wishing me good luck and Godspeed? It's fantastic.

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I sent Him an Email FOr recovery and Better health and informed him of this group if he needed or wanted to check us out plus info on NC License Plate. THink he calls Charlotte home if not mistaken.

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