Jamie Samuelsen, 48, took to the Detroit airwaves to reveal that he is fighting colon cancer, a diagnosis he’s kept under wraps for the past 19 months. The co-host of the “Jamie and Stoney Show,” returned to the show Monday after an infection had caused his absence.Read More
The Need For Privacy
Samuelsen, who has been on the air with co-host, Mike Stone since 2016, said he’d kept his diagnosis under wraps for the sake of his three children, ages 16, 14, and 11. Telling them was the most difficult thing he’s had to do, he told listeners.
“Obviously, all of our lives were turned upside down when we found out,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “Given the fact that I work in radio and my wife works in TV, I wanted to make sure it didn’t affect their lives.”
Craig Melvin of NBC’s Today points out an important statistic — overall, the rate of colon cancer is on a decline, in every age group except adults under age 50.
Samuelsen’s wife Christy McDonald, an anchor and reporter on PBS Detroit, has kept him focused throughout his cancer treatment, which he calls “a second job.”
“My wife is a miracle worker in a lot of ways,” he told listeners, noting how she’d guided his treatment decisions. “I’m much more ‘Eh, things will be OK,’ and she’s a much more, ‘No, no, no we need to do this, this and this to be OK,’ and she’s right, and she’s been 100 percent right the entire time, and I’m so appreciative of her.”
Colonoscopy: “Sooner Rather Than Later”
Now that his news it out, Samuelsen is urging others to get a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45.
“For years, the whole joke has been, ‘you turn 50, you get that colonoscopy.’ I’m trying to advise men and women of our age to get it sooner rather than later,” Samuelsen said.
“I’ve had three very close friends already who told me that they got a colonoscopy because I did, and they found polyps early and had them removed. And I’m so grateful for that.”
Dr. Zuri Murrell, Director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, explains what happens when a polyp is found during a colonoscopy.
“I just didn’t want to wait any longer, I wanted to get it out there,” he said. “All the studies keep bringing the average age lower and lower, which is frightening. And it’s for men and women alike.”
It’s About Your Family
“I was diagnosed a year and a half ago, and they give you all these time parameters,” he explained. But Samuelsen, citing side-effects from treatment, couldn’t give a timeline on when he’d be back on the air.
“I’m just looking at it as, we’re here today, we’re fighting today, and I hope to be back on the radio with you guys on a full-time basis very soon. I’m just totally fatigued right now. It’s hard for me to think about doing a four-hour radio show. That’s why I’m not on.”
“It would make me feel great if people were to go out and schedule colonoscopies,” he said. “It will be such a burden off your shoulders to know you’ve done everything you can. It’s not just about you. It’s about your wife, it’s about your family, it’s about your husband.:
You Shouldn’t Die of Embarrassment
Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon at Cedars-Sinai, told SurvivorNet that the reasons people are still dying from a disease like colon cancer mostly involve people being unaware or too embarrassed to discuss symptoms that would warrant testing.
“I tell [my patients] that you shouldn’t die from fear, and you shouldn’t die from embarrassment — and that’s really the only two reasons that people are dying from this disease today,” Dr. Murrell said. “If you’re experiencing symptoms such as changes in bowel movements — you shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk to a doctor about it.”