Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

TMNT Star Sam Riegel Opens Up About Cancer Diagnosis and Recovery

TMNT Star Sam Riegel Opens Up About Cancer Diagnosis and Recovery

Voice actor Sam Riegel recently shared a deeply personal journey with his fans. Riegel, known for his role as Donatello in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series and as a key member of the Critical Role cast, disclosed his battle with oropharyngeal carcinoma, a type of cancer affecting the tongue, tonsils, and soft palate, in a heartfelt video posted on Critical Role’s official social media channels.

The Emmy-winning performer’s revelation came as a surprise to many fans who had noticed his absence from recent Critical Role episodes. Riegel explained that his diagnosis earlier this year led to his temporary departure from the popular Dungeons and Dragons show following the dramatic exit of his character, Fresh Cut Grass, in Campaign Three.

Riegel’s cancer journey began with an unusual symptom – the loss of his ability to taste sweet foods. Initially suspecting COVID-19, he sought medical advice when tests for the virus came back negative. Within two weeks, he received the cancer diagnosis. The actor then underwent significant surgery, removing one of his tonsils, part of his tongue, and a portion of his soft palate, leaving him with a seven-inch scar in his throat.

Following the surgery, Riegel faced a challenging recovery process. He spent four days in the hospital, relied on a feeding tube, and had to relearn basic functions like speaking and swallowing. “I had to relearn how to speak and swallow, which is why you may notice my diction is a bit slurry,” he explained in the video.

The treatment did not end with surgery. Riegel then endured six weeks of radiation therapy, an experience he described as extremely difficult. “I spent six weeks doing radiation treatment, which sucked,” he shared.

In a move to raise awareness, Riegel revealed that his cancer was likely caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, possibly contracted during his college years. He used this personal experience to advocate for regular health checks and the HPV vaccine, highlighting that while HPV infections are common and often inconsequential, they can lead to serious health issues like cervical cancer in women and oropharyngeal carcinoma in men.

Despite the hardships, Riegel’s update was ultimately one of hope and recovery. He expressed his eagerness to return to storytelling and performing, stating, “Guys, I have missed performing. I’ve missed my friends. I’ve missed telling stories. But mostly, I’ve missed talking and thinking about anything other than cancer.”

He acknowledged that a full recovery would take several more months but emphasized his readiness to rejoin his colleagues and fans. The voice actor’s return to public life is already in motion, with Riegel scheduled to appear alongside his Critical Role castmates at this month’s Florida SuperCon.

Source: Pop Culture