For nearly 40 years, reporter Steve Crump has used his platform on WBTV to share stories close to his heart. And after a cancer diagnosis last year, he’s connecting with viewers to raise awareness about colon cancer.

News | 2 years ago

Steve Crump: A Local TV Legend And Colon Cancer Fighter

For nearly 40 years, reporter Steve Crump has used his platform on WBTV to share stories close to his heart. And after a cancer diagnosis last year, he's connecting with viewers to raise awareness about colon cancer. 

“It’s a window to the world, a window to history,” says reporter Steve Crump when reflecting on journalism’s power. And for nearly 40 years, the local TV legend has invited WBTV viewers to look through this window with him, sharing moving stories about the Civil Rights movement and exploring issues of race and class in the Carolinas.

From covering breaking news in war-torn regions to creating award-winning documentary films, Steve Crump has always given a voice to the voiceless – and earned his viewers’ trust and admiration in the process.

So the community was understandably heartbroken to learn that Steve had been diagnosed with colon cancer in July 2018. In March 2019, after a long absence, he stopped by the anchor’s desk with his oncologist at Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute, Mohamed Salem, MD, to talk about his journey and give voice to a new issue close to his heart: colon cancer awareness.

Raising awareness for colon cancer

“I had no idea that I was sick,” said Steve. “I had lost 40 pounds on my own diet and then all at once things began to tailspin with digestive issues and the like.” After a series of tests, Steve soon became one of the 140,000 people who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year.

Dr. Salem explains how Steve had many of the common symptoms of colon cancer, which include, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and pain. Dr. Salem notes that 86% of people with the disease experience at least some of the symptoms – so it’s important to see a doctor if you feel something is wrong.

There are also steps you can take to catch this disease early so that it can be treated. At the top of the list is getting screened. “If you are 45 years or older, please go to your doctor and get screened,” urges Dr. Salem. Previously the medical community urged people to get screened at 50 years old, but a recent uptick in younger people getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer has led to the new recommendation of 45 years old. Getting screened is especially important if you have a family history of the disease or if you’re obese or a smoker.

“In this rough and tumble business that we’re in, we feel that we’re invincible,” says Steve. “And it was this feeling of invincibility” – that you know people get cancer but you never think it’ll happen to you – that kept Steve and keeps many others from getting screened.

Not an easy road

When he appeared in the studio in March, Steve emphasized that it wasn’t an easy road back. He contracted a serious MRSA infection, which is a dangerous and potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant staph infection.

The impact of this infection was serious – and at one point Steve was breathing through a ventilator, using feeding tubes, and hooked up to dialysis.

“What he went through, most people wouldn’t have made it through,” says Dr. Salem. He, along with so many in the community, prayed for Steve as his condition became seriously life-threatening. Eventually, Steve pulled through and has been able to resume the chemotherapy treatments that are helping him fight the disease.

“It is so good to be home”

Back in the building he’s called home for 32 years, Steve had some good news: He returned to WBTV on a part-time basis at the end of March. And now he’s more inspired than ever to educate viewers on issues that mean something to him.

Steve is particularly passionate about encouraging members of the African-American community to get screened. A multitude of factors – chief among them lack of awareness – has kept this community from getting screened and led to higher mortality rates among African-Americans with colon cancer.

Those without insurance are also less likely to get screened – so Steve and Dr. Salem are driving awareness for FIT 4 Life, a screening program for those without insurance. You can call 980-442-2509 or email to find out more information.

Love from his wife Cathy, support from his WBTV family and fans, and an outstanding level of care at Levine Cancer Institute have helped Steve get to a place where his condition is workable. And it’s gotten him back in the newsroom, back to answering the question at the center of his journalistic practice: How can my work in the newsroom help the community today?

As always Steve is using his platform for good – helping the community learn more about the symptoms and risk factors of colorectal cancer.