The shock jock told The Hollywood Reporter that in May 2017, doctors discovered a growth on his kidney, with a 90 percent chance that it was cancerous.
"And now all I'm thinking is, 'I'm going to die,'" he said. "And I'm scared s—less."
After an hours-long surgery, he learned that the growth was simply a tiny, harmless cyst. It had all just been a scare.
He said only his inner core group of confidants — including his second wife, Beth, his three daughters, his therapist and his on-air sidekick, Robin Quivers (herself a cancer survivor) — knew of the scare. He had lied through his teeth to his radio audience after abruptly canceling his radio show on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. By the time he was back on Monday, he knocked the alarmist theories from fans and reporters, many of which had tracked down his parents to check up on him. He told them it was just the flu. "Why is it such a big deal that I took a f—ing day off?" he said.
But behind closed doors, while he was comforted to know he didn't have cancer, he was shaken up by coming face-to-face with his own mortality.
He told THR that in the two years since the scare, he's wondered if he'd been living his life the wrong way. He said he regrets not being a good father to his three daughters, nor a good husband to their mother, Allison, who left him in 1999. He said he cringes at the narcissism that laces the pages of his first two best-selling books, Private Parts (1993) and Miss America (1995), and said he's plagued by nearly all the interviews he conducted in his early career.
"I was so completely f—ed up back then," he said. "I didn't know what was up and what was down, and there was no room for anybody else on the planet."
Stern, 65, said that his brush with cancer was a key factor in his decision to write his first book in two decades, Howard Stern Comes Again, which is a curated collection of edited transcripts from his favorite interviews, as well as his own memories and self-reflection.
"I'm at a place now where I am trying to figure out how to spend the rest of my life, however long that might be," he said, adding that he's been considering retirement as well. But, "it seems weird to me not to have this," he said, nodding toward his desk.0comments
Even though he said he daydreams about the next chapter of life, he hinted that retirement doesn't seem likely just yet.
"To walk away from what I'm good at?" he said. "I don't even know that I have it 100 percent right yet. And maybe there's more to explore."