Kelley shares story in commercial promoting early colon cancer screenings

14 years ago

By Natalie Bazinet
Staff Writer

As an instrumentation and controls instructor in the Trade Technology Department at the Northern Maine Community College, teaching comes pretty natural for Chuck Kelley of Limestone but he’s recently added a new topic to his educational repertoire by appearing in commercials aimed to inform individuals statewide about the importance of getting screened for colon cancer.

ne-chuck kelley-dcx-ar-48-clrContributed photo by Kevin Brusie
Limestone colon cancer survivor Chuck Kelley hopes that by sharing his story, individuals will understand the importance of being screened early for colon cancer.


Kelley is one of seven Mainers chosen to share their stories during an awareness campaign under way since Nov. 15 to increase colon cancer screening rates in Maine. The campaign is made possible by an initiative of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services; the departments wanted real Mainers to be the face of colon cancer in their efforts to help prevent the second leading cause of cancer death in the state.

Kelley didn’t have many reservations about being a spokesperson for the important cause especially since he believes that early detection saved his life.

While it’s widely accepted that individuals should begin being screened for colon cancer when they turn 50 (pending family history and other variables), Kelley was diagnosed in June of 2008 with stage II colon cancer when he was only 47. The colonoscopy revealed that the cancer had permeated the lining of his colon but hadn’t spread to any other organs and also showed that he had a cancerous polyp.

One-third of Kelley’s colon was removed as well as the polyp; he’s been cancer free for two and a half years with all systems functioning quite normally. Had he waited to be screened for colon cancer, Kelley’s story of survival could have come to a very different ending.

That’s why if individuals take nothing else away from the awareness campaign, Kelley hopes that they understand the importance of being screened for colon cancer.

“This can save your life and I really feel strongly that it did save mine” Kelley said.

In 2009, almost 900 Mainers were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 260 died from the disease, yet some individuals still have reservations talking to their doctors about issues in that area of health care. While some may be shy about broaching the subject with medical professionals, ignoring a potentially life threatening concern is unacceptable as far as Kelley is concerned.

“You have to be proactive in your own health and you have to be part of the process and if it’s a matter of your life, then you need to get over it, “ he said.

The commercial was Kelley’s first foray into “stardom,” and he sounded almost surprised that people have been recognizing him near and far.

Earlier last week, Kelley was recognized by a couple of people for being in a commercial as far south as Farmingham and locally, he’s frequently heard from friends and acquaintances that they’d seen him on television.

The commercial took about an hour to shoot down in Portland, and Kelley said that the people, facilities and experience provided by commercial creator Burgess Advertising were all very nice.

Kelley offered to do the commercial after he was forwarded an e-mail soliciting survivor stories from his wife, Jo-Ellen, a community educator for the Power of Prevention (who coincidentally, educates the public about the importance of being screened for colon cancer).

For additional information regarding the awareness campaign or to view Kelley’s commercial, visit