Hot sauce saved the life of a Chicago man — by igniting a seizure that lead to an important health diagnosis.
Randy Schmitz was on a vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, enjoying a meal at the Pepper Palace, when he suffered a massive seizure. He had just tried the restaurant's "Flashbang" hot sauce, which is made with habanero, Carolina reaper and scorpion peppers, and requires would-be tasters to sign a waiver.
The 30-year-old initially did not feel well after consuming the sauce, and stepped outside for some fresh air. He sat down on a bench and fell unconscious, waking up on a stretcher in a hospital room. Doctors believe the hot sauce may have caused dehydration, leading to the seizure.
After finishing his vacation, Schmitz flew back home to Illinois and checked into the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. There, doctors performed an MRI, which revealed the presence of a cancerous tumor in his brain — luckily still in the early stages of development.
Schmitz underwent surgery to remove the tumor, which was over two inches long and more than an inch wide. Since then, he has undergone radiation treatments, and is currently completing chemotherapy. He also got married just two weeks after his diagnosis with brain cancer.
While undergoing treatment Schmitz reached out to Pepper Palace, to let the owners know that tasting their product led to a life-saving experience.
"The doctors did not know how long the cancerous tumor had been there and they said if it did not get activated, it would have just kept growing and expanding. I had surgery, got the tumor removed, went on radiation and chemotherapy, and I am now cancer free!! Your Flashbang Pepper Sauce SAVED MY LIFE!!!!" Schmitz wrote in a letter to the restaurant.
In response to the letter, the company posted words of encouragement on their website, and sent the cancer survivor a package of memorabilia with T-shirts, golf balls and jars of various sauces — including Flashbang. Schmitz told the press he is hesitant about tasting the super-hot sauce again, considering his initial physical reaction.
Both the patient and his doctors say the early detection of his cancer was thanks to his hot sauce seizure.
"If you have a lot of hot sauce and you're sweating a lot, people can have dehydration and it can cause seizures," If you eat a habanero pepper, it's a big jolt to your system," Jeffrey Raizer, medical director of neuro-oncology at Northwestern Medical Hospital, said.
Photo: Kazue Asano | Flickr