Craig Melvin: A brother, an advocate

In many ways, national broadcast journalist Craig Melvin is like every ally. He is deeply concerned about his half-brother, Rev. Lawrence Meadows, who is battling stage IV colon cancer at age 40. He’s been bedside at the hospital. He calls to check-up. He texts.

What sets Craig apart is his ability to share Lawrence’s journey with millions of viewers. Through the Today show, he can transmit his brother’s story and fight against cancer to screens across the countryraising awareness and empathy for this disease. A feature story about his brother’s diagnosis last February demonstrated Craig’s reach.

“I did not fully appreciate the scope and the influence of television, of the internet, and maybe even my voice, until we ran the story more than a year ago, and people came out of the woodwork,” Craig says. “It was a story a lot of people could relate to, and I didn’t know that, and, I guess, why would I know that?”

In the broadcast, Craig is seen visiting Lawrence at a hospital, the church where he preaches, and the funeral home he co-owns. We watch Craig next to his brother when a doctor reads the results from Lawrence’s most recent CT scan, and we watch them talk about Lawrence’s war on cancer and inevitable thoughts about death, especially as it relates to his two young children. It’s a conversation with heaps of grace and a dose of humor.

“I could not get my head around it being you because you’ve alwaysno smoking, no drinking, no partying,” Craig tells his brother in the broadcast.

“Yeah, I’m like man, gosh, I should have been drinking and smoking and doing all that other stuffnow I have this diagnosis, I should have been getting all that other stuff in, too,” Lawrence says, chuckling.  

The scene cuts to Lawrence’s office, where he and Craig look at framed photographs together.

Craig narrates: “That’s Lawrence, in his funeral home, talking about a potentially deadly diagnosis but doing what he’s done since we were little, cracking jokes.”

When Craig found out his older brother had stage IV colon cancerthe most advanced stage, indicating that the cancer had spread to other parts of Lawrence’s bodyit nearly knocked him off his feet.

“We thought the diagnosis was wrong,” Craig says. “I’ve come to find out over the past year that that’s pretty much the case for everyone this age who gets this diagnosis.”

Lawrence’s story is part of a startling trend affecting adults under 50 years old. Since 1994, cases of young-onset colorectal cancer have increased by 51%, according to the National Cancer Institute. Researchers aren’t sure why.

Lawrence’s treatment is ongoing, Craig says, and he’s become part of a small research study at MD Anderson.  

A follow-up to Craig’s February broadcast will be aired March 30 on Today.


Colorectal cancer often leaves an indelible mark on the lives of people it touches. Many people find a way to harness the powerful emotions and thoughts that come with a diagnosis and turn them into action through advocacy or fundraising. Craig and Lawrence have each done that, in their own ways.

Lawrence began by sharing his story.

“My brother is a man of God, and he likes to figure out how he can use his experiences to help others learn and inspire them,” Craig says. “I said maybe we should do a story about the diagnosis, so I floated the idea, and they loved it. The next thing you know, I’m in Spartanburg, South Carolina, doing a story about Lawrence and his family, his business, and his diagnosis.”

Lawrence has turned this disease into his life’s work, Craig says. For instance, Lawrence recently attended a health and wellness festival in Washington, DC, where he answered questions for television, newspaper, and magazine reporters.

“There are a lot of folks who would’ve gotten this diagnosis and crawled into a hole and clamped up about it, and he’s done the exact opposite,” Craig says. “He’s become quite the minister, if you will, in terms of advocacy and prevention and getting folks checked out, and that makes a kid brother proud.”

For Craig, time for advocacy is limited by his job and the rapid pace of 24-hour news. Almost every week he is someplace new, producing a story. Recently he was among a team of journalist covering the Winter Games in PyeongChang. With precious spare time, Craig says he prefers to focus on one issue at a time.

“There are a lot of causes out there, but there isn’t one right now that is closer to my heart because of what’s happening in my family,” Craig says. “I also think sometimes, when people are pulled toward three or four different causes, it’s hard for them to be as effective. So for me being able to focus my attention, as it relates to causes, just on the Alliance, for me it means more.”

Last October, Craig hosted the Alliance’s annual Blue Hope Bash, our premier fundraising event in Washington, DC. His presence energized the evening, which ultimately raised $1.5 million to support the Alliance’s efforts in research, prevention, and patient and family support.

And, of course, his television platform is a medium for advocacy, too. Craig is cognizant on how positive, humbling stories can impact an issue.

“You spend a fair amount of time in the media highlighting all the treacherous, awful, disgusting things that happen on a daily basis,” Craig says. “We do that in part because it is our charge, but we don’t always do the best job highlighting the inspirational, or sharing the stories of people who are good and do good things.”

After the story about Lawrence aired last year, people would stop Craig on the street and say they’re praying for his brother. They wish him well.


At the Blue Hope Bash, Craig was joined by Lawrence, who the next day would fly to a chemotherapy session. As they sat close and laughed, their bond was evident. From the stage and from their chairs, among the hundreds that joined them, they heard messages of encouragement and hope.  

“Seeing and hearing the stories of so many who’ve beaten this dreadful disease was awe-inspiring for me and my brother,” Craig said at the time. “Raising money and awareness was the goal, but it sure was a lot of fun, too. I was honored to be a part of an evening filled with so much hope and love.”

Craig says one trait Lawrence carries from his father is a reluctance to talk about personal issues, or wear his heart on his sleeve. But, if there is a silver lining to this disease, it’s that it brought them and their family closer.

“When there is someone you love who is going through something like this, and you have a front row seat to it all, it really does make you appreciate things a lot morenot material things, but life and your family and the time you have with your family,” Craig says. “You appreciate all of those things.”

And we appreciate you, Craig. The Alliance stands with Lawrence, you, and your families.

In March, we observe National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Join us as we build our nation of passionate allies, fiercely determined to end this disease within our lifetime.  

Meeting the Moonshot Mission

In the State of the Union address, President Obama announced the most important research initiative to find a cure for cancer since the 1971 War on Cancer. Themed the “Moonshot,” this initiative seeks to break down barriers limiting scientific discovery and invest one billion dollars to help make new therapies available to patients while improving our ability to prevent cancer. The Colon Cancer Alliance vigorously supports the Moonshot; however, we believe there is an additional element that should be included in the strategy to ensure mission success.

Read more

Cancer Patients Can’t Wait—Tell Your Senator To Act Now

Last July, the Colon Cancer Alliance applauded members of the House of Representatives for putting patient’s lives ahead of their political differences as the House overwhelming passed the 21st Century Cures Act by a 344 to 77 margin. This landmark legislation includes $9 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support cutting-edge biomedical research; it modernizes and streamlines the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process for new treatments; and it removes the barriers that limited use of nationwide health data to help researchers and doctors improve health outcomes.

The House bill then went to the Senate. We assumed, given the fact this legislation literally has the potential to save lives, that the Senate would make it a top priority; instead last year the Senate essentially did nothing. Now this year Senator Alexander from Tennessee, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee (HELP) decided not to take up the House bill and instead consider a series of twenty different Senate bills that contain elements of the House version. 

Read more

Medicare Part B… Ware

Medicare seeks to ensure Americans over age 65, and younger people with certain disabilities, have affordable health care. This Federal health insurance program is particularly important for our community, as colon cancer disproportionately impacts older adults. Most people are familiar with Medicare Part D, which provides coverage for prescription drugs patients buy at the pharmacy; lesser known is Part B, which covers prescription drugs administered in a physician’s office or hospital outpatient department, such as most medications that treat colon cancer.

On March 8, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed rule to test changes to Part B coverage. Acting Administrator for CMS Andy Slavitt said, “These proposals would allow us to test different ways to help Medicare beneficiaries get the right medication and right care…this is consistent with our focus on testing value-based care models.” The CMS-proposed tests come in two phases: the first changes how physicians are reimbursed under Part B and will start later this year, while the second will test a variety of pricing strategies in 2017.

Read more

A New Lunar Mission

On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy told Congress his administration was committed to putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The human effort this would require dwarfed virtually every initiative attempted before then, and only the construction of the Panama Canal and Manhattan Project would cost more. In 1961, the world lacked the technology to achieve a lunar landing; but through research, innovation and an unwavering commitment to the goal, on July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong planted the Stars and Stripes on the moon.                                                   

Last month, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden to lead a new lunar mission that, if successful, would benefit humankind in ways far beyond space exploration. Themed “the Moonshot,” it is a new national initiative to work toward a cure for cancer and includes plans to funnel $1 billion into the project. Obama’s mission to “make America the country that cures cancer once and for all” is one all Americans should embrace. One out of every two men and one out of every three women will get cancer in their lifetime. Every single day 1,600 Americans die from cancer and colon cancer is the second leading cause of these deaths.

Read more

Congress Repeals the Affordable Care Act (Again)—Now What?

Unless you have been spending your days with Matt Damon on Mars, you are aware that Congressional Republicans don’t think too highly of the Affordable Care Act, AKA “Obamacare.” They have voted 59 times to repeal it and, just in case you weren’t sure where they stood, this month was number 60. What was different this time is that it made it to the President’s desk, where in a move surprising no one, it was vetoed. Republican leaders stated that the point here was to show the public what could happen if they win the White House in November.

Read more

Speak Up, Speak Out in the Presidential Election

When Matt Bevin ran for the office of Governor of Kentucky, he promised to roll back the expansion of Medicaid in the state. I recently read an article about a cancer patient in Kentucky who had grave concerns about these potential changes to Medicaid. His quote, in fact, said he thought these rollbacks, might cost him his life. I was very empathetic until later in the article it noted the man had voted for Bevin because he felt policy issues other than healthcare were more important. Ultimately, Bevin was elected and now we must wait to see how his health policy will impact the people of Kentucky.

The future of health care is arguably one of the most important issues facing our nation. Costs are rising at an unsustainable rate and this could have a devastating effect on our economy. The demand will only increase as baby boomers reach the age range where they will have the greatest need for health care. Considering the bankruptcy rate for cancer patients is already double the national average, we must ask ourselves: what can we do to assure a cancer diagnosis doesn’t equal financial ruin and is our healthcare system taking this into consideration?

Read more

The Pink Tsunami

Just last month, 300 pound NFL linemen took to the gridiron to do battle while sporting hints of pink in their uniforms. Throughout “Pinktober,” products like cosmetics and cleaners, lotions and laxatives supported breast cancer awareness. While some have criticized what they see as an over commercialization noting that breast cancer awareness month itself was even started by a pharmaceutical company, the positive impact on women’s health has been dramatic as early diagnosis of breast cancer has led to significant improvements in five year survival rates for those diagnosed.

Like many national movements, this tsunami-like wave of awareness began as a small ripple. The notion of using a colored ribbon as a social cause symbol began in the 1970’s when the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” inspired Penny Laingen, wife of an Iran hostage, to use a yellow ribbon to show support for her husband and the other hostages. The initial color for breast cancer awareness was actually peach and created by Charlotte Hayley, a breast cancer survivor who handed out the ribbons in a grassroots effort. Then in 1991, cosmetics mogul Evelyn Lauder, as a guest editor for SELF magazine, wanted to work with Hayley and have the ribbons at cosmetic counters; Hayley declined thinking this was too commercial, so lawyers for SELF recommended changing the color. In the fall of 1991, volunteers for Susan G. Komen gave out pink ribbons at a race in New York City and the rest is history.

Read more

Speak Up, Speak Out on Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations

We recently shared the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendations on screening for colon cancer where they did not recommend CT Colonography or FIT-DNA, available as Cologuard, the newest FDA-approved at-home screening test, as primary screening methods. However, there’s something you can do to change that: visit the USPSTF website to read their draft recommendations and leave a comment before November 2, 2015 to let your voice be heard!

Read more

What Cancer Patients Need To Know About “Biosimilars”

In 1984, Congress passed what is commonly referred to as Hatch-Waxman, a bill intended to lower the cost of prescription drugs by making generic versions available after an exclusivity period. However, one group of medicines, called biologics, was excluded from the bill. Many of the medicines used to treat colon cancer, such as Avastin and Erbitux, are biologics and so there are not lower cost versions available; however, that may be about to change.

Read more


Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria