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SYFY WIRE Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica Star Edward James Olmos Reveals Battle with Throat Cancer

The legendary actor underwent an intensive chemotherapy and radiation regimen last year.

By Matthew Jackson
The Big Frakkin’ Battlestar Galactica Reunion Pt. 1 | SYFY WIRE REWIND

Edward James Olmos, the legendary actor best-known for projects like Battlestar Galactica (streaming now on Peacock), Miami Vice, and Blade Runner, revealed earlier this month that he spent last year locked in an intensive battle with throat cancer.

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Last week, during an appearance on the Mando and Friends podcast, Olmos discussed his diagnosis publicly for the first time, confirming that he spent much of 2022 battling the disease, including spending time in chemotherapy and radiation treatments,.

"This would be the first time publicly I'll be coming out and saying it, but I had throat cancer," Olmos said. "I just finished getting through it. December 20 was my last radiation. The week before, I'd finished my chemo and [for] months and months I was on radiation and chemo as it attacked my throat."

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For Olmos, whose look and voice have made him a recognizable character actor for decades, one of the most frightening parts of the experience was the moment when doctors told him that, due to the intensity of the treatment on his throat, they had no idea what he would "sound like" when the treatments were over.

"'We're shooting your vocal cords," Olmos said. "We're shooting your throat. Where you eat, where you swallow, where you talk, breathe, everything goes through here,'" Olmos explained. "A lot of my friends have passed because of this."

As anyone whose been through this kind of treatment, or seen a loved one go through it, knows very well, the physical toll of chemo and radiation reaches much further than the affected cancerous area. Olmos ended up losing about 55 pounds during the course of his treatments, and keeping him fed became a top priority for doctors in an effort to keep up the 76-year-old's strength. 

"There were times in the months that I was undergoing the treatments that the body gives up," he said. "And I didn't want to take my food through my stomach. They wanted to put tubes in and feed me nutrients because I couldn't swallow. They had to get 2,500 calories into my body every day. That was ridiculous. That was so hard."

Thankfully, Olmos is on the mend now. He mentioned in the interview that he swims at least a mile every day, and adds in rowing and weight training. But of course, the recovery isn't just physical. 

"It was an experience that changed me, the understanding of how wonderful this life is," Olmos said. "I've been through some experiences that have gotten me close to death, but that was close."

We're sending our best wishes to Olmos and his family, and we hope his recovery continues smoothly. 

Catch Olmos' legendary performance as William Adama in Battlestar Galactica, now streaming on Peacock.