Papa Jonas Featured in USA Today

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Today, Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) advocate and stage II survivor, Kevin Jonas Sr. (Papa Jonas) is flexing a #StrongArmSelfie on the cover of USA Today’s “Future of Cancer Care” campaign! Read his story below and check out his article in USA Today!


With a last name like Jonas, not to mention several successful businesses and chart-topping sons, one of the last things Kevin Jonas, Sr., sometimes known as “Papa Jonas,” wanted to do was slow down for colorectal cancer screening.

The busyness of life gave him several excuses to push off his colonoscopy: a southern-style restaurant named after his grandmother, Nellie; managing talent and up-and-coming artists; and then, there was the fear. And nervousness.

“I spent years chasing symptoms… stomach problems, heartburn, back pain, cramping during stress,” he said. “I looked into cutting dairy, stopped drinking caffeine and Red Bull… but the symptoms persisted. I was a nervous wreck about getting my colonoscopy.”

For years, Kevin ignored an internal voice that kept nudging him to see a doctor, claiming he was living the “Jonas Way”—pushing through difficulties and pain, bearing the discomfort to eventually overcome. And while the ideal was built on the backs of his hard- working family and led to years of resilience amongst much fame and success, it wasn’t helpful when it came to his digestive issues and cancer screening.

Kevin finally scheduled a colonoscopy two years after it was recommended when he turned 50 and soon he received the news: stage II colon cancer. While it was hard to take, he soon became grateful the cancer was caught at an early stage, when it’s highly treatable and curable.

“I don’t know what it would have been had I not gone in when I did—maybe stage III or IV,” he said.

Not only was he learning the world of fighting cancer between surgeries and chemotherapy, but he was discovering a new area of influence with a near- immediate impact.

“It’s amazing how many people have told me they’ve also put off their scopes and my story has caused them to go in. It’s had quite an impact so far and I’m hoping people hear my story and go get checked.”

A unique impact destined for a Jonas to make.

Musical Beginnings

The Jonas family has had many eyes and ears turn their way over the past several decades. When big news hits Kevin, his wife, Denise, or any of their four sons and their families: Kevin Jr., Joe, Nick or Frankie, it’s likely to be printed in a magazine, discussed over airwaves or posted on social media.

But it wasn’t always like that.

Kevin grew up in Belmont, North Carolina and was raised by a hard-working family who made their living working in cotton, like most other people around town. As a young child, he began to play music and developed a passion and calling for it. Music led him to a Dallas- based Bible college where in the registration line on
the first day he met a fellow student named Denise. Instantly struck by her beauty and kindness, she was there to study sign language and become a missionary, the two married in 1985. Over the years Kevin worked as a pastor and their family moved from the Dallas area to New Jersey where they began their family.

As music continued to weave itself into the fabric of their family’s life, Kevin didn’t only see his sons pick up his same love of piano, guitar and vocals but he saw their immense talent and opportunity. Being so close to New York City, Kevin and Denise decided to let their sons audition for Broadway and like many stars can say—the rest is history. Their son Nick booked his first Broadway role at age 7 and began performing when he was 8. The three oldest boys formed a band later signed by Columbia Records – The Jonas Brothers – catching the attention of Disney and many of its fans.

The Jonas Brothers waiting for their dad to get out of surgery.

As a family, they spent the majority of the years between 2005 and 2013 traveling the world, from all 50 U.S. states to nearly every major country on the globe.

“As a family, we worked together to achieve what my sons have done.”

In 2013, the brothers decided to pursue solo careers and Kevin went back to being “dad” and now “grandpa” to two granddaughters. But in light of the career changes, songwriting sessions, globetrotting and Hollywood fame, the Jonas family always has, and still does, maintain an extreme closeness that’s supporting one another through every twist and turn—including Kevin’s colorectal cancer.

“When my boys heard the news they cancelled everything to be there for my surgery and they have been with me every step of the way.”

In fact, having the boys’ support is part of what made Kevin’s fight with colorectal cancer a very public one.

“We knew the story was going to leak because there were rumors going around. I lost a lot of weight and people saw my sons at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City. We decided to control the message and share the news rather than have people speculate.”

The family released the information about Kevin’s diagnosis and as soon as it hit, not only did it make headlines around the world, it opened up Kevin’s eyes to his new role as a cancer survivor.

“After I told my story, someone told me, ‘Kevin, you’ve had a big impact already but this will make an even bigger impact on people’s lives. It was a very emotional moment. That’s when I owned it: I am a survivor.”

Survivor Life

While he’s had an amazing support system and a team of doctors working to fight his disease, his experience has been anything but easy. While his prognosis was optimistic from the start, post-surgical complications leading to more surgeries and chemotherapy side effects, like neuropathy and fatigue, have made hospital stays and doctor’s visits the norm. He continues to face surgeries and frequent scans to monitor any evidence of disease.

But with the ongoing hurdles he jumps through, being called a survivor means so much more.

“Saying it and owning that I am a survivor was a struggle for me. But it’s an important word.”

A word that’s changing the lives of his family and anyone else who follows them. Because he’s a first- degree relative for his boys, they’re all encouraged to get screened earlier than age 50. And, he’s hoping to make an impact on men like him who can relate to his story.

“I hope I’ll impact guys like me—those dads who need to go in for their colonoscopy. I hope they’ll take my example as an encouragement. If they get there early enough, it might even save their lives.”

His story also nudged his wife, Denise, to get screened. As a supportive caregiver, she’s walked side-by-side with him throughout his diagnosis to ensure he has everything he needs to get well. And now, she’s joining him in his advocacy as they share their family’s story in the hopes of seeing others avoid the path their lives took.

“There’s nothing greater than helping stubborn guys and gals like me get screened,” said Kevin.

Although it’s been a difficult experience both physically and emotionally, the Jonas family is using what they’ve been given to help others, this time finding purpose not only in their passion but also their pain.

As he continues to embrace what it means to be a survivor, Kevin finds power in simply sharing his story, as it helps him embrace life’s new normal.

“It is part of my healing to say something.” Today, Kevin and Denise agree there’s a new “Jonas Way.”

It still includes a strong family bond, a lot of grit and immense dedication, and hard work. But it also includes taking care of yourself and listening to your body, especially if that means getting screened for colorectal cancer.

3 thoughts on “Papa Jonas Featured in USA Today

  1. So glad to hear you are a survivor.
    I was trying to get a colonoscopy just when covid-19 hit so had to put it off for about 5 month. Then I was found to have stage 3 colon cancer which I soon went under the knife for a resection (loosing about 16 ” of colon and the cancer with it). Since Dec 2020 been having chemo, it’s rough but sure beats having cancer. Last cat scan showed I’m cancer free ( I thank my Lord Jesus for that). Still pressing on.
    Keep up the fight and may God help you and your work

  2. Great story and message. My name is John Kastanis and I am a Stage 3 colorectal cancer survivor going on 2+ years. Spread the word Jonas family and help save lives! I would be happy to share my story and support you in anyway I can.

    Best regards,
    John Kastanis
    johnkas88@yahoo.com

  3. My husband is also going for treatment for colon cancer. Eating dark chocolate has helped him with the symptoms of chemotherapy and he is gaining weight. Also Reiki sessions and waving tuning forks around his body, his energy field, have been helpful.

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