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Losing Fear In The Face of Cancer, With Jessica Buscho

Jessica Buscho

Losing Fear In The Face of Cancer, With Jessica Buscho

Jessica is currently undergoing treatment for Stage IV colon cancer. Despite the fact that her symptoms were dismissed by doctors for years, she approaches life with positivity and gratitude. During our conversation we discussed how her cancer diagnosis has been the impetus behind her living a life less driven by fear and more focused on presence.

One of the guides that has helped Jessica navigate her disease is the book Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds by Kelly Turner, Ph.D.


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Joe Mahaffey Is Working Hard to Honor His Brother’s Memory

After his brother Doc’s death in 2017 from colorectal cancer, Joe Mahaffey has assumed the role of passionate advocate.

In March of 2018 Joe traveled to Washington, D.C., along with close to 200 fellow patients, survivors and caregivers, for Fight CRC’s annual Call-On Congress. Back home in North Carolina Joe has been working to fulfill one of his brother’s dreams; to have a colorectal cancer license plate available for North Carolina residents. The Blue Ribbon Warrior license plate is one of the focuses of the non-profit the Mahaffey brothers created, the Blue Ribbon Warrior Foundation.

Lee also interviewed Dr. Prasanth Reddy, MD. Dr. Reddy is the VP of Medical Affairs for Foundation Medicine. Foundation Medicine  is the company behind FoundationOne CDx; the first FDA-approved broad companion diagnostic (CDx) that is clinically and analytically validated for solid tumors.

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WE Have Cancer; Our Story, With Lee and Linda Silverstein

In March of 2011, just four months after Lee and Linda began dating, Lee was diagnosed with Stage II colon cancer. He underwent a partial colectomy and was able to avoid chemotherapy. In December of 2012 Lee and Linda got married and spent their honeymoon in Jamaica. When they returned, it was time for Lee’s six-month CT scan. The scan revealed a slowly growing spot on Lee’s liver. His oncologist ordered a biopsy.

On New Year’s Eve at 4 pm Lee and Linda received a call from their oncologist, Dr. Jonathan Strosberg with the news they were hoping wouldn’t come; Lee’s cancer had metastasized to his liver. He would need to undergo liver resection surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy.

In this first episode under the new title, WE Have Cancer, Lee’s wife shares her story. She talks about the emotions she’s experienced as a caregiver and new wife. She discusses where her positive outlook comes from and how she believes “We have cancer; it doesn’t have us.”

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Big Announcement – We’re Expanding Our Reach

For over three years WE Have Cancer has shared stories of information, inspiration and hope of those touched by colorectal cancer; your stories, your family members’ stories, your friends’ stories, your doctors’ stories.

As I’ve reflected back on all of these incredible interviews I realized that the whole world can be inspired by these stories. The messages contained within these deep, and often emotional conversations, can touch more people, not just those within our colorectal cancer community. And this is why I’m incredibly excited to share this major announcement with you.
Each year, more than 12 MILLION people will hear the same three DEVASTATING words: “YOU. Have. Cancer.”
As many of you know, I myself am a survivor of pediatric kidney cancer and Stage IV colon cancer.
My AMAZING wife Linda has taught me that *WE* have cancer, because every one of us is affected by it in some way — survivors, family, friends, and medical and support team members…
And we ALL have a story worth telling.
And this is why WE Have Cancer is transforming to a new name, while sharing the same inspiring stories. Welcome to
WE Have Cancer
As a Stage IV colon cancer patient I will continue to focus on the colorectal cancer community; however, if I come across an inspiring story of a breast cancer patient or a childhood cancer survivor I want to give them an opportunity to share their stories as well. You see, there are no other regularly produced podcast available today that share these stories with the world.
WE Have Cancer will debut on May 8th, when, for the very first time, I interview my wife Linda.
Like before, the podcast will be available on iTunes, the Stitcher app, Spotify, Google Play and on our new website All of the previous episodes will continue to be available.
The success of WE Have Cancer happened because of you. You supported the show, shared the episodes with the community and even recommended guests for me to interview. Thank you for believing in me then and thank you in advance for joining me on this exciting new journey.

Honoring Her Husband’s Memory Through Her Advocacy Work, With Dana Georges

Dana Georges

Honoring Her Husband’s Memory Through Her Advocacy Work, With Dana Georges

I had the pleasure of meeting Dana at the 12th annual Call-on Congress.

She became very involved in cancer advocacy efforts after losing her husband Jean to colon cancer on Mother’s Day, 2015. He was only 43-years-old. Her 7-year-old  son will need to begin screening at age 25. Also, her32-year-old brother recently had precancerous cells found in a polyp that was discovered during a colonoscopy due to rectal bleeding.

Since her husband’s passing, she has been to Capital Hill twice to meet with her federal  lawmakers in an effort to increase funds for cancer research. She also focuses on meeting with her state and local lawmakers throughout the year. In addition to her advocacy work with Fight CRC, she also works with The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

Teaching Hope and Happiness in the Face of Cancer

Gina Benedetti

Teaching Hope and Happiness in the Face of Cancer, With Gina Benedetti

This story of Gina’s journey appeared in the 2017 issue of On The Rise and was written by our late friend, Dr. Tom Marsilje.

Gina Benedetti may be about the happiest and most hopeful person diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) that you have ever met – and her hope and happiness are infectious! This comes partially from her background as a first grade teacher, where a positive attitude rules the day. With cancer, this attitude has not changed, just the audience she can project upon.

Gina was 30 years old when she changed careers to become a teacher. “I became much more positive, optimistic, and happy when I decided to do that! That shifted everything in my life.”

Only a few years later, her cancer diagnosis gave her a new opportunity to further improve her life. “I’m a better mother and a better teacher, a better friend … a better person for going through this. My heart got bigger. I just want to help people even in the smallest things in life.”

Sneaky Symptoms
She was pregnant and loving it when, unbeknownst to her, her cancer story started. Symptoms like stomach cramps, weight loss, and urges to go to the bathroom began showing up shortly after giving birth. These symptoms escalated, but she continued to think they were just complications from her recent pregnancy.

Due to a proactive medical team, she was diagnosed with CRC within only a few months, a lucky break she credits with potentially saving her life. She woke up from her colon resection surgery thinking, “Oh I don’t have stomach cramps! I feel great!”

It was tough on Gina not being able to hold her newborn son for the six weeks of surgery recovery. She now focuses on the positive, however: Because of her cancer, she has been able to be home with her young son for the past nine months, something that would not have been possible with her normal full-time teaching job.

Staying Positive
Although she was diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer (Stage 3C) in her mid-30s, Gina approached her diagnosis and treatment with a positivity that should be a beacon to others. That is something that hits you when you meet Gina. She seems to always be smiling – and it is hard not to smile yourself when you are near her!

Gina was excited to apply to be a Featured Survivor in the Colondar 2.0. In her mind it was a natural extension of her teaching background. “I always thought that the way I would leave my footprint or make the world better would be by teaching. And now I think that has totally changed and that this is how I’m going to change the world,” she says. “I am going to make a big difference doing this. I feel like this is what I was meant to do!”

She looks forward to spreading additional CRC advocacy to the west coast. She wants people to know it’s not an old man’s disease. Anyone with symptoms should listen to their body. Young people should be screened. And they should push their doctors if they have symptoms. “I was lucky with my doctors,” she says. “Many others were not. I was a sneeze away from Stage IV.”

Gina’s thoughts on her immediate future continue to be as positive as one can imagine. “This has been a blessing in disguise. I am confident that I won’t have a recurrence and that this was a hiccup in a very charmed life,” she says. “I am an extremely strong and positive person that is determined to make this experience a learning experience for others.”

With her constant smile, Gina and her positive approach to advanced cancer will do just that – multiplying and spreading the blessings of her diagnosis many times over. She is excited to embark on the ultimate teaching experience … now to a much larger group than her beloved first-grade classroom.

Side Bar: Turning the Tide
Chemotherapy for Stage 3 CRC is tough. Some patients are not able to complete all 12 rounds of FOLFOX, but everyone tries their best because this chemotherapy is potentially curative. The first two infusions were very rough on Gina. But then, with the help of a cancer support group, she started to think of chemo as a positive – something meant to kill cancer and save her life.

With that mental switch, she started to give herself treats on chemo days. Her husband helped by keeping an air of levity around infusions. Gina also hired a personal trainer to use exercise during chemo as therapy. Her trainer would tell her, “There are no excuses. This is your path. You can’t feel sorry for yourself!”

Gina credits these actions as turning the tide on her chemo side effects, making them much more tolerable.

What is the one thing she most wants to teach to fellow CRC survivors? “Find a light in in everything. Getting cancer sucks, it really does. Find little things that make your day brighter … Have a positive attitude and have hope.”

Links mentioned in this episode:

Gina on Twitter –

Gina on Instagram –


Honoring Her Husband’s Legacy With Nikki Moore of #LiveMoore

Nikki Moore

Honoring Her Husband’s Legacy With Nikki Moore of #LiveMoore

Matt and Nikki Moore met while they were in college. They fell in love and were married a short time later. In late 2015, while pregnant with their first child, Matt was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer at the age of 32. Before his death, Matt wanted to inspire people to live life to the fullest so he created Live Moore.

Links mentioned in this episode: –

Matt’s Faces of Blue article –




Matt Talks about Live Moore in this video:

Talking Colon Cancer Screening and Awareness With Dr. Andrew Albert

In this bonus episode Dr. Andrew Albert returns to the show for an informal conversation about colon cancer screening and awareness. He and I talked about embarrassment, stigmas, poop and more. How do we get young people, and their doctors, to recognize their symptoms and understand that there’s no such thing as “too young” for colon cancer? How do we get people in their 40’s to ask their doctor when should they schedule their routine colonoscopy?

If you’d like to share your ideas on how to increase screening rates in those over the age of 50 – 45 in the African American community – and how to raise awareness of symptoms in the college-age community please email Lee at



Getting Men To Discuss Their Colon Cancer Symptoms, With Paul Shadle

Paul Shadle

Getting Men To Discuss Their Colon Cancer Symptoms, With Paul Shadle

Paul Shadle was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in 2016 after noticing symptoms on a family vacation. He had dismissed prior feelings of fatigue and chalked it up to getting older. On vacation, he had bloating and cramping in his abdomen, later noticing blood in his stool.

When Paul was diagnosed, the disease had spread to spots on his liver and lungs. Since then, he’s undergone regular sessions of chemotherapy. The spots on his liver have gone away, and the spots on his lungs have shrunk considerably. He’ll continue with the chemo treatments until doctors expect to remove the main tumor.

Paul stumbled upon Fight Colorectal Cancer’s ambassador program shortly after his diagnosis. Last summer, he applied and was selected to participate in the national campaign in New York City.

The campaign encourages individuals to get checked and learn more about the disease.


Paul and I discussed the fact that many men are reticent to share information about their health, particularly potential symptoms of colorectal cancer.

Colon Cancer’s Tattooed Pinup Girl, Tara Principali

Tara Principali

Colon Cancer’s Tattooed Pinup, Tara Principali

Tara (pronounced Tar-uh) Principali was diagnosed with Stage 2 rectal cancer five years ago at the age of 30. Though she once lived an unhealthy lifestyle, weighing as much as 270 lbs., she dedicated herself to fitness and healthy eating prior to her diagnosis and lost 130 lbs. In addition to the rectal cancer diagnosis Tara also learned she had Lynch Syndrome.

After a partial colectomy and temporary ileostomy, Tara was considered in remission. She didn’t undergo any chemotherapy or radiation, since her cancer was caught early. Six months after her ileostomy and j-pouch surgery, Tara’s symptoms returned. She went back to her doctor who ran a series of tests and diagnosed her with Crohn’s Disease.

Tara now has a “new normal.” She eats a healthy diet and is a competitive bodybuilder.

Related Links

Tara’s story from On The Rise, produced by the Colon Club

Tara on Instagram

Lynch Syndrome


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