© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

05/13/11 11:03 AM ET

Killebrew decides to enter hospice care

Hall of Famer, Twins legend suffering from esophageal cancer

Hall of Famer and legendary Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer late last year, has decided to enter hospice care.

"It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end," Killebrew said in a statement issued Friday. "With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors' expectation of cure.

"I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides.

"I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side."

Killebrew, 74, hit 573 career home runs -- 11th all-time -- in his 22-year career with the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins. He was the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player and an 11-time All-Star, playing in 13 games (two in 1959 and '61). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.