The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Country music and colonoscopies: Local DJ shares his story with listeners

Country music and colonoscopies: Local DJ shares his story with listeners

During the morning "Rich & Casey Show" on country radio station I-105 WIOV, the chatter often centers on news about country music, jokes, the question of the day, and a variety of other lighthearted topics sandwiched between songs by Luke Bryan, Lainey Wilson, and other popular singers. 

But on a recent winter morning, the talk was about a vastly different topic: colonoscopies. 

Rich Creeger told his fellow DJ Casey Allyn that he had recently undergone the outpatient test for colon cancer at WellSpan York Hospital, performed by gastroenterologist Dr. Hafsa Abbas. With a mix of humor and seriousness, Rich urged his listeners "of a certain age" to get the screening, recommended for those of average risk and no family history, starting at age 45.  

"They found a polyp and they got it out and I'm good for three years," Creeger told Allyn and his listeners. "I said, 'Let me get this straight now. I don't have any sort of cancer, but you found a polyp that is possibly precancerous?' … The doctor said, 'Yeah, that's how it works. You get those things out, they don't turn into cancer, and that way you get a clean bill of health.' That's what happened to me and that's why I feel it's so, so important." 

Creeger shared that he has an even bigger reason to be a promoter of colonoscopies. His wife Fran had a colonoscopy in 2021 that showed she had stage 2 colorectal cancer, for which she was successfully treated. "It saved her life," he told his listeners, "and it could save your life too because you just never know." 

Colorectal cancer ranks third both in the number of cancer-related deaths and in the number of diagnosed annual cancer cases (excluding skin cancer) in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. 

"There also is good news with colorectal cancer," said Dr. Abbas. "The death rate has been dropping in the past few decades, probably due to a number of reasons. When we find polyps during screening, we can remove them before they develop into cancer. Also, colonoscopies find cancer earlier when it is easier to treat." 

Even though doctors had found and removed three precancerous polyps in Rich's colon during his first colonoscopy, he says he still drug his feet on getting his second colonoscopy, putting it off for five years after the recommended date. 

"Like everyone else in America, I thought, 'Ehhh, I have no symptoms. I'll be fine.' I put it on the back burner," he says. "Then when Fran got diagnosed, I said to myself, 'I gotta get this done.' And here's the ridiculousness of my thought process. I told myself I would wait until she gets better. Why wait for something to come up? It just doesn't make any sense but it's the weird way we rationalize things." 

Rich also acknowledges the cringe factor of colonoscopies, due to the preparation that consists of taking laxatives to clean out your colon and then the actual test that consists of having a scope placed into your rectum and colon, while you are under sedation. 

"Everyone has just a tinge of embarrassment about it," he says. "The truth of the matter is, it's not really a big deal. When you come out of it, you say, really? Was I that worked up over that?" 

Still, Rich says with a laugh, he gets it. During the morning show discussion, he said as he was being wheeled into the procedure room at WellSpan York Hospital, a radio station was playing and he heard his voice and then Allyn's voice saying the show's tag line, "Hey I'm Rich! And I'm Casey!" 

"I was like, 'You've gotta be kidding me. They're listening to I-105 while they are doing these things!?' " he says. "It was just a very surreal moment as I was lying there, my bare backside exposed." 

But his final note is a piece of advice about colonoscopies for anyone who hears his voice. 

"Just do it," he said. "It could save your life." 

Take this health assessment to get a personalized report and risk score for colon cancer, as well as learn steps you can take for a healthier future.