Scoping out cancer: Bruce shares personal story, why colon cancer screenings are so important

Bruce takes you into the operating suite for a very personal story -- just days after his youngest brother died of cancer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When trying to decide upon a marquee title for my special report, in which I actually take you into the operating suite and give you complete and unfettered access to what is usually a very private procedure, we decided on the headline: “Scoping Out Cancer.” It is very appropriate given the emotional circumstances under which I am doing this.

Sure, I can give you the statistics. You’ve heard them before. Colon and rectal cancers are the second most common cancers among men and women combined. One in every 20 people is at risk of getting this disease. Every Spring we hear screenings are important because this cancer is fairly common, but if caught early it’s highly treatable if found in the early stages. Yes, we hear it every year. For many people, that’s just noise and the message doesn’t resonate.

So, I want to make sure you get the message.

That’s why in this story you watch as Dr. Alex Crean, a leader in colorectal surgery, performs my colonoscopy.

It took place at HCA Florida Memorial Hospital just 48 hours after my youngest brother Pete died from a rare form of cancer, small bowel cancer. He also suffered Chron’s disease. Through the years, colonoscopies were routine for him. And led to the discovery of a number of issues.

My mom suffered from Chron’s and bowel-related problems and cancer as well. So, you see there was a family history.

Bruce smiles for a picture with his brother, Pete, and their wives in St. Augustine.

I made a promise to Pete to get screened. I kept that promise. Little did I know I would be keeping it hours after I said goodbye to him, unfortunately via Facetime. I was supposed to travel to Philly that weekend with every hope that Pete would hold on. Though he promised to fight that cancer with every ounce of his being and try to hold on, that cancer won.

I did struggle the morning of the screening as to whether or not to proceed, let alone with television cameras rolling. Struggled knowing that family history meant that the risk of discovering a problem was a very real possibility.

Was it something I really wanted to know when I was so fragile? I’m just being honest with you.

This was more difficult than you will ever know. And broaching this subject about a month later, it’s still tough, but I had to do it.

Why? That promise to Pete.

Bruce and Pete

The colonoscopy took a little less than half an hour. I was under anesthesia and literally felt nothing. It was painless.

Dr. Crean did find a polyp. Thankfully, the labs came back and it was benign. That said, given my family history, I’ll be back for another screening in five years.

If nothing else, I hope you watch this story and it inspires you, someone you love, a friend or someone else close to you who has hesitated to get screened.

It is not cliché' to say it may very well save a life.

Outpouring of support

On The Morning Show on Friday, I shared more about those who reached out to me after I first shared my story on Thursday.

It generated more responses than I ever would have imagined.

If you know anyone hesitating to get screened, please share this story.

News4JAX's Bruce Hamilton shared a personal story involving screening for colorectal cancer. The story generated a powerful response, and we look at the impact and awareness it has generated.

About the Author:

This Emmy Award-winning television, radio and newspaper journalist has anchored The Morning Show for 18 years.