An Illinois cancer survivor said that a hot sauce challenge he took while on vacation saved his life.
Randy Schmitz was on vacation with his family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when he happened upon a hot sauce store that hosted a challenge where participants dip a toothpick into a bottle of hot sauce so potent that a waiver must be signed.
“It was pretty darn hot,” he said, “but since I didn't have a huge amount of it, I got over it in a few minutes.”
“I've done some other challenges in the past — this was possibly the worst one,” Schmitz said. “I made it the five minutes. My sister then said she wanted to take the challenge, but I said, 'You might want to hold off, I'm feeling really sick.'"
Schmitz said he stepped outside after beginning to feel ill and sat on a bench. That’s the last thing he remembers.
“My head was feeling really off,” he said. “Next thing I know, I wake up in a stretcher in a hospital hallway covered in vomit and I had no clue what had happened.”
Schmitz had suffered a seizure outside of the store — reportedly twitching and shaking violently — and learned after getting an MRI that he had a cancerous brain tumor. He flew home and underwent surgery to get the tumor removed, later receiving radiation treatment. He finished radiation just in time for his wedding.
Schmitz said that if he hadn’t done the hot sauce challenge, doctors might not have noticed the tumor so soon.
“They don't know exactly how long it was in there, so it would have just kept growing and might have gotten to the point where they couldn't remove it,” he said. “My life would have been over.”
Pepper Palace CEO Craig Migawa issued a statement after Schmitz’ story went viral. “We are honored to have been a part of this story and we are humbled to know something as simple as a hot sauce can make such a difference,” Migawa said.