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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) introduced a House resolution to designate March 2018 as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death for men and women combined, but it is preventable with regular screening and treatable if caught early,” said Representative Payne.
Colorectal cancer kills more than 50,000 people in the United States each year. It often has no warning signs. Payne lost his father, also a congressional representative, to colon cancer in 2012.
“Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is so important because it helps educate the public about the importance of screening and treatment,”says Rep. Payne. “By raising awareness, we can save lives.”
Last March, Kevin Jonas went to the doctor for his first colonoscopy and found a large mass in his colon they suspected to be malignant. Three weeks later, his worst fears were confirmed: He had stage 2 colon cancer. He went on to receive chemotherapy for six months to prevent a recurrence.
Jonas’ sons — Kevin Junior, Joe, and Nick, of Wyckoff New Jersey’s Jonas Brothers fame, plus youngest brother Frankie — dropped their busy schedules to support their father. The famous clan continued to support Jonas through chemo and various complications from surgery, a polyp, an abscess and a fistula.
Jonas’s post-op prognosis was positive because the cancer was caught early, but it shook the family regardless. “It was a really hard time — feeling like he wasn’t going to make it and not knowing what was ahead of us,” says Denise, his wife of 32 years.
And now Kevin Jonas Senior, who opened a restaurant in North Carolina in 2016 — hopes to save lives by sharing his family’s cancer crisis. He is the newest spokesperson for Fight CRC, a national advocacy group that raises awareness about the importance of early detection through screening.
“If you are 50 years or older and you haven’t been screened, the bottom line is you need to be screened. Don’t tell yourself, ‘I don’t have signs or symptoms so I can put this off another year,’” says Anjee Davis, Fight CRC president.
“To ease anxiety, I point people to people like Kevin and Denise: It is very empowering for survivors and family members to use their stories to encourage each other and to remind people to be screened.”