Howard Calls for Check-Ups in Wake of Cancer

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He's one of the area's most well-known personalities. Since 1978, Chip Howard has been heard on radio dials talking sports. But now, there's another topic that he wants people to hear about: early detection of colon cancer.

At age 53, Howard was urged by his doctor to get a colonoscopy.

"Starting at age 50, everyone should do it," Howard said. "If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, you should probably start about 45."

What Chip's procedure found wasn't the greatest of news.

"Chip came in and just blurted it out," said Ben Downs, the head of Bryan Broadcasting. "He said, 'I have colon cancer.' I said, 'well, good afternoon, Chip.'"

"It was just a blessing that we caught it early," Howard said.

Surgery was set for the man who talks people home from 4 to 6 on 1150 AM, The Zone. He was gone for two weeks in July. But his treatment now isn't keeping him from his love of being behind the mic.

"I have 28 radiation treatments every day, five days a week," Howard said. "I don't have the energy. I don't have the stamina. There's some fatigue. I get tired easily. There's a little bit of nausea with the treatment that's being controlled fairly well. But I've worked everyday. That's a real blessing. One of our prayers when I started was that I'd be able to work, and so far, I've been able to work every afternoon."

And while the talk has remained on sports on Chip's show, with nary a mention of the disease he is battling, that doesn't mean his listeners and friends aren't hearing about his calls for check-ups.

"I keep asking them, 'have you gone yet,'" he said. "Several friends that I have have."

Downs was one of them. "It sent everybody at the radio station who's over the age of 50 to a gastroenterologist to get their own colonoscopy," he said.

"I hope that as a result, my faith is strong, and I hope as a result, I'm able to tell people publicly about what keeps me going," Howard said. "In the last three months, who wins and loses a football game or baseball game isn't nearly as important as it may have been three months ago."

That's coming from a sports radio host, that sports aren't all that important.

"I know, I'm biting the hand that feeds me," he said. "I do that a lot."

His treatment is daily, but so is Chip Howard's desire to work, and to get the word out about cancer screening.

"What I hope is that by public is that I will encourage people to take care of themselves and to get tested," he said.

"We see unfortunate stories way too often," said Dr. Erin Fleener with the St. Joseph Cancer Center, "so it's good for people like Chip and Katie Couric and all these people that get their voice out.

"For the general population with no family history of colon cancer, your risk of having colon cancer goes up astronomically after the age of 50 for other reasons," she continued. If you do have a history in your family, though, there is still significant risk. In Howard's case, relatives did have colon cancer.

"It sometimes takes a few year to talk somebody into actually going and doing it," Fleener said. "You have to take a day off work because there is some sedation involved."

"There's a lot of people that are a lot worse off than I am," Howard said. "I see them everyday at M.D. Anderson (in Houston). They can't walk into or out of the hospital so I feel very blessed as far as that goes.

"I have a lot of respect for people that are still doing very labor intensive jobs and going through this kind of treatment," he continued.

But Howard's job is to talk, a job he says he's blessed to have. His treatment has weakened him physically, but hasn't weakened his resolve. He'll continue to talk sports, with a little bit of life sprinkled in.

"My thought is let's work today, and let's get up and work tomorrow," Howard said.

More information on colon cancer, screening and treatment can be found at the American Cancer Society's website, http://www.cancer.org/docroot/COM/content/div_TX/COM_5_3X_Coloncancer_generalinfo.asp?sitearea=&level=


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