Bob Losure - Light... Camera... Cancer!
by Julie McKenna
"And we're live in three...two...one..." Bob Losure has heard this thousands of times in his career as a TV news anchor and reporter. He spent nearly 12 of his 30 years as a broadcaster with CNN Headline News where he covered thousands of events from the mid-80s through the mid-90s. And in a unique twist of fate, Bob may never have worked for CNN at all had he not been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1985.
In April 1985, Bob noticed that one of his testicles was three times larger than the other and he had what felt like three marbles lying end-to-end. He thought this was odd, but knew he must do something when it grew to four, then five marbles a week later. "Then I knew something was wrong," Bob recalls. "I waited five or six weeks from the onset of the problem before I went to the doctor." His doctor referred him to a urologist, Dr. David Confer, who confirmed that something was not right. Two days later Dr. Confer removed Bob's enlarged testicle, which was found to be cancerous.
"Dr. Confer said we needed to do a lymph node dissection because there was a chance it had spread," remembers Bob. "So he made a big, long 15-inch cut in my chest, opened me up, and took out 70 lymph nodes, of which two had cancer." Bob was then told there was a 40 percent chance that the cancer would return.
About three months later the cancer did grow back in Bob's groin - this time about the size of a quarter. It was removed and this time Bob had to undergo chemotherapy, which consisted of three treatments over a six-week span. Each of the treatments involved having chemotherapy and anti-nausea drugs injected intravenously 24 hours a day for five straight days. Bob finished the chemotherapy in December 1985, and he has been cancer-free ever since.
Bob had been working for a CBS affiliate as a news anchor up until he went in for treatments and could not come in to work. Evidently they did not think he would be coming back because they had hired a permanent replacement for him, so when he did come back from treatment, Bob jokes, "They had somewhat of a public relations dilemma on their hands."
"I'm not sure that without the cancer I would have ever worked at CNN."
Knowing this might happen, Bob and his agent had been looking for other jobs while he was in treatment, and Bob was actually making phone calls from his hospital bed. His agent had heard about an opening at CNN Headline News and Bob eagerly went in for an interview after his second chemotherapy treatment.
A bit insecure due to his thinning hair from treatment and his pale appearance, Bob charged right in for his audition telling the news director the truth - he was undergoing chemotherapy but he could start working in three months. Within weeks he got the call that he was hired, and in January of 1986 he went on the air with a hairpiece because he had lost all of his hair by the time he completed his treatments.
"I was forced to go out and find a better job so I'm not sure that without the cancer I would have ever worked at CNN," Bob reflects. "I'm very lucky and stayed there almost 12 years."
In 1997, Bob retired from CNN and wrote Five Seconds to Air, a book about broadcast journalism. Bob now devotes his time to his new career as a keynote speaker, corporate spokesperson, and events emcee for major corporations.
Looking back on his fight against cancer, Bob attributes his success to his positive outlook. "I never lost faith in God. I never thought I was going to die. I never thought that it was my fault that I had cancer. I thought I was going to survive and I would have a pretty good story to tell people."
Even though Bob has been cancer-free for 16 years, he still goes in for regular checkups and cancer is never too far from his mind. "You have a fear when you have it, then you have a fear that it will come back," Bob points out. "It may not be the last time I get cancer. It may show up somewhere else next; I can only do so much about that. But the minute something doesn't feel right, I've got to get to the doctor and say, 'Hey, let's get after it!'"
With a simple twist of fate called cancer, Bob Losure became one of the most recognizable broadcasters in television news. He is living proof that cancer can be a catalyst for opportunity - especially for those willing to look toward the future.
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This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2002.