La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Harmon Killebrew is battling cancer - UPDATE

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 30, 2010 - 11:02 AM

Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, in a statement released this morning, revealed that he is battling cancer.

His statement:

``I was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer.   With my wife, Nita, by my side, I have begun preparing for what is perhaps the most difficult battle of my life.   I am being treated by a team of medical professionals at the Mayo Clinic.  While my condition is very serious, I have confidence in my doctors and the medical staff and I anticipate a full recovery.

``The Mayo Clinic is one of the largest and most experienced medical centers treating esophageal cancer in the world.  In the past decade, they have made tremendous advances in the treatment of this disease.  Nita and I feel blessed to have access to the best doctors and medical care. 
 
``I thank everyone for their outpouring of prayers, compassion and concern.  Nita and I ask for privacy during this difficult journey.''
 
Killebrew, 74, has been a fixture at significant Twins events in recent years but did miss the annual winter caravan and TwinsFest last year while recovering from gallbladder surgery.He recovered from that surgery in time to make his annual trip to spring training.
 
He was present for the Twins' legends exhibition game in August as well as the Twins-Yankees ALDS.
 
UPDATES
 
Killebrew is being treated at the Mayo Clinic location in Scottsdale, Arizona.
 
Kevin Smith, the Twins Executive Director of Public Affairs, said the hospital will not provide any specifics about the diagnosis or treatment. The information flow will probably minimal, given HIPAA rules.
 
The Twins have just released their statement:
 
``Harmon Killebrew is a great man. The collective heart of the Twins family goes out to he and Nita as they begin the battle against this cancer. Harmon is universally loved and our thoughts and prayers are with him and Nita throughout this ordeal. We ask that everyone send prayers Harmon's way as he begins the road to recovery.''
 
11:00-  Mayo Clinic touts itself as an internationally recognized facility for the treatment of this type of cancer. For some background, start here.

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