The small c: Stern & Imus

I just did an interview about my cancer with Steve Langford from Howard 100 News, who really is an intrepid reporter. I told him I could certainly not describe the full details of going through this with other media outlets (not that a single one of them would care) because it’s just too, well, explicit. So, of course, Steve then demanded those dirty details, starting with the harpoon shots into me that I blogged about yesterday (hint: it’s a rear-guard action). I still spared Steve the atmospherics of my MRI with a foot-long magnetic coil also shoved up there. Some things are too much even for Stern fans. And I’ll tell you the Viagra story later.

When Steve mentioned my blog post today on the air, he said, Howard expressed his concern and I’m grateful for that. Yesterday, I wrote about living the public life and no one has perfected that better than Howard. He – more than blogs – has taught me about transparency.

One of the things I am valuing most in the phenomenal response I’ve been getting since yesterday – besides, of course, the wonderful good wishes from so many of you – is the candor I get from folks who’ve had this experience. One friend sent me email with frank advice about sex; it takes guts to talk about that with others and so I’m grateful he was willing to. A few others have let me know how they pee (thanks, guys).

I told Langford that I wanted to get advice from Stern producer Gary Dell’Abate because, on the show, he very publicly went through the ordeal of having a stent stuck up his penis because of kidney stones. Because he’s already shared every detail on the radio, I figured he’d be straight with me. Get this: Gary called me to assure me that it was irritating but didn’t hurt; getting it taken out was incredibly strange, though. He didn’t hesitate to share with me because he already lives so much in public.

Living in public is good.

But there are exceptions. Don Imus may be one of them.

I had joked that one of the worst parts of getting prostate cancer is that I share an ailment with Don Imus when I’m a Stern fan.

But, hey, now that we’re brothers in malignancy, I at least wondered what treatment Imus had selected from the menu – radiation, radioactive seeds, surgery, robotic surgery, or just watching – so I searched online before Langford called (then maybe I could have him speculate on Imus’ impotence and incontinence rather than mine).

I was shocked to find that Imus is apparently talking about treating his cancer with peppers. Peppers. By this logic, people in Mexico, China, Thailand, and Hungary should never get cancer because they eat so many peppers. Yeah, science spends billions looking for the cure for cancer and I trust Imus to find it?

Indeed, a 2006 study found that an ingredient in certain peppers has been found to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. But it has not been tested in humans. Lycopene, an ingredient in tomatoes, also helps reduce PSA. But I’m not going on the ketchup cure.

If Imus is seriously – and so publicly – spreading the notion that eating peppers will cure him, I fear it could jeopardize people who think that they can avoid diagnosis and treatment for a deadly – but curable – disease. Because he is on the radio, what he says gets used and spread (I hesitate to link to the guy promulgating this pepper thing but here it is).

I’m going to tell jokes about my cancer, as best I can, and share my experience when I think it might be of interest. I don’t intend to drown you in sorrow and seriousness. But take this advice seriously: Don’t take medical advice from a talk show host – or a blogger – just because they have a platform to spread it. The virtue of publicness has its limits.

  • Liz

    I’m so sorry to hear about your illness. But it sounds like your attitude towards it is healthy! I hope a full recovery is on its way.

  • Knowing that you’re a Howard Stern fan and that you talked with Bababooey, I love you even more. Beat that cancer!

  • sorry to hear, jeff… kick it — your peeps are with you

  • Shaz

    Jeff, speedy recovery and all the best to you. I’m a cancer survivor and telling jokes really contributed to my good mental health!

  • Jeff … Lorea and I are thinking about you. You’ll beat it!

  • Tex Lovera

    Jeff, I am sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I wish you the best and pray you fully recover.

  • you have a great sense of humor so i am hopeful that will help you recover speedily. my prays are with ya.

  • Steve

    Ah, my prostate biopsy. It challened my ability to think of just the right simile.

    I settled on: “It is just like being violated by five staple guns that havfe been tied together and simulataneously shot off. My kinkiest fantasies never even approached that!

    And this was courtesy of a urologist who I can’t stand who had previously told me that my vasectomy wouldn’t hurt. Well it didnt, compared to having been at Stalingrad.

    I need a referral to a nice NJ area urologist!

  • Mark


    Why not just buy a billboard over Times Square and take out advertising time on FOX News? At least you’d be doing our capitalist system a favor by telling the entire world about your personal medical issues.

    By the way, how do your personal medical issues benefit American business, capitalism, wealth creation, growth, entrepreneurial activities, and the guts and courage necessary to excel in our free market system?

    Or is your effort some sort of initial means by which to monetize the web through capitalist bloggers using socialist means of information dispersal to gain financial reward for you and yours?

    Really, Jeff, if that’s the case, you must get your business plan in the Harvard Review. Set up a few speakers gigs. Talk – for a price, of course – about how to monetize the Net through conveying your personal medical standing to the consumer.

    I bet Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman would be proud.

    • wtf

    • Shaz

      Mark, you need to adjust your meds, or at least start seeing your therapist again.

  • Sorry to hear the bad news, all the best for a speedy recovery!

  • Anna Haynes

    In (uninformed) defense of Imus, to the extent that watchful waiting is on the table, it’s not unreasonable that watchful waiting plus peppers would be too.

    From the eurekalert press release on the 2006 research, they fed pepper extract (capsaicin; “roughly equivalent to between three and eight fresh habañera peppers” daily for a human) to mice who had been injected with human prostate cells.

    But I agree – anytime where “wait and see” is contraindicated, going “natural” is too.

    But to people without health insurance, I bet it’s awfully tempting…

    • If the link I provide is to be believed, they’re not talking watchful waiting but cure via peppers. A very different vegetable, eh?

      • Anna Haynes

        Agreed, I wouldn’t want to put my life in that guy’s hands, nor encourage others to do so.

  • It’s not easy to share the details about getting ill. If you haven’t seen “Funny People” yet, they get it exactly right when Adam Sandler gets the bad news, as well as the scariness behind the idea that “Once you tell someone, it’s out there, and you can’t get it back.”

    I appreciate the courage it takes to announce and discuss something like this. All the best.

  • Jeff,

    As the British says:


    All the best!


  • It hurts when one finds about the medical conditions of famous bloggers.
    Actually it is requires a lot of courage on anybody’s part to tell people his/her condition.
    But that is what makes people great. Hats off to you sir.

  • These pepper eaters are just like newspapers: They know that fixing what ails them is going to take serious medicine, but they do everything they can to avoid believing it.

    bob wyman

  • Ben Stanley

    I’d sack your proctologist though. Lazy bunch – they just go through the motions.

  • lLawrence


    My sympathies – I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in February and underwent De Vinci robotic removal of my prostate in May.

    It’s not fun – like all surgery, the first couple of weeks are an experience (quickly forgotten!), but of all the alternatives, it seems the best, and I am now back at work and well on the road to normal.

    Hope everything goes well

  • Hal Lawton

    Well actually…yes…red and green peppers, not necessarily the hot and spicy kind, are a good adjunct to tomatoes.

    I’d do 3 months of that and then check if PSA has fallen.

  • Don’t take medical advice from a talk show host – or a blogger – just because they have a platform to spread it.

    I’m so glad you said that, because I was about to. In fact, I’ll do you one better: Don’t take medical advice from a health care professional either, unless that health care professional has met you, examined you, or is otherwise familiar with your situation.

    My wife is an advanced practice nurse, and whenever a friend or family member is sick, they tend to call her for advice and counsel. It’s always nice to have a friendly, informed shoulder to lean on of course, but invariably they often ask her for a diagnosis or treatment plan. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said (or heard her say), “Well, I’ve never met your father, so I wouldn’t want to guess how to treat his illness – he really should talk to his doctor about that.”

    I wish everyone in the medical community were as responsible as my wife, but alas, that’s not the case. Particularly if they have a “platform,” as you put it, to publicize their viewpoints.

    Research is great. Online research is easy and great. But verify everything you read/hear with your doctor – he’s the one who really knows what’s going on inside you.

    Again, best of luck…

  • Hal Lawton

    Don’t eat peppers with pesticides in them (yes, not on them but in them). Buy organic. Read and

    Jeff: You might want to check what chemicals you’ve been absorbing while you really shouldn’t laugh and say you won’t be eating more ketchup or tomatoes (lycopene is the best thing for the prostate). Russian men drink pomegranate juice for the prostate. That isn’t backwardness causing them to do that.

    • Hal, I”m not saying that these things aren’t beneficial. I said they are. But for a radio host to say or even hint that eating peppers will cure cancer is another matter.

  • Doctor: Well, we better discuss treatment now for your prostate cancer. I recommend intensive hormone therapy.

    Man: Are there any side-effects?

    Doctor: A few. You will have a loss of potency. You might get some hot flashes. And when lost, you will have an inexplicable urge to actually ask for directions.

  • it’s always crazy hearing blogging news on Howard, but there you were the other day. Sorry to hear that you will share something in common with bababooey.

    Get well soon! You’re in all our thoughts.

    peace and love, peace and love

  • Chuck Kinsey

    Silly me,

    I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July of 2008 and scheduled for surgery and/or IMRT radiation but because of a huge copay, asked my physician if I could wait until January for the procedure and he told me that the cancer was not likely to spread but he could not guarantee it. So I waited. In late October of 2009 while in a holding pattern medically (no cancer treatment at that point) I learned of the Habanero/garlic recipe and did it for 14 days. I told my Physician at Scripps about it and she said, “It couldn’t hurt and in fact if more people took the Cod Liver Oil in the recipe, there would be far fewer hospital admissions in this country”

    I did the recipe for 14 days and stopped for 5 so as not to taint any blood test and went back for a new PSA and Free PSA test. To the amazement of my physician the numbers were astoundingly favorable and I continued on doing the regimen daily until I went back for a second biopsy in March and it was totally clear. No malignancy whatsoever.

    About a week later Imus made his announcement of his cancer and I took the liberty of sending an e-mail to Imus Foods and asked that it be forwarded to the Imus family. They got back to me and the rest is history.

  • Don Imus is using my recipe, as did Chuck Kinsey above.

    For months, it has been a running joke by Imus every ten minutes that he has cancer so don’t pick on him. In recent days, he appears to have stopped doing that according to my limited listening.

    YThen yesterday, he told “Dr. Phil” stammering at first, “I’ve recovered.” But today he told another guest, Mark Levin, he was battling cancer while laughing.

    The last time I heard Imus give any specifics, his lab results were extremely promising.

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  • Alfred c

    After listening to Imus for 25 years, I lost all respect for him when he and his wife went on the anti-vaccination bent and there was a correlated increase in infant diseases in the Uk caused by people refusing to vaccination their children.