On March 7, 2017, Kevin Sr. went in for his first colonoscopy at the age of 52. The screening found a worrisome mass; three weeks later, after surgery to remove it, doctors discovered he had been living with stage 2 cancer. Kevin Sr. underwent six months of grueling preventative chemotherapy, and on Dec. 22, he was declared in remission. And today, Kevin Sr. hopes sharing his story encourages others — including his four sons with wife Denise, 51 — to get screened for colorectal cancer.
The average recommended age to begin screenings is 50. But according to Fight CRC — a national colorectal cancer advocacy organization that raises awareness about the importance of early detection through screening — 25 percent of people diagnosed with the disease have a family history. So anyone with a family history of colorectal cancer “should begin screening 10 years before their youngest affected relative was diagnosed,” says Dr. Richard Goldberg, director of the West Virginia University Cancer Institute.
For more on the Jonas family’s cancer crisis, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
“We do have testing now that’s available, and our kids will all go in and be tested and probably go in early and actually have a colonoscopy early,” Kevin Sr. says of the boys. “I think that Kevin is planning to soon. He just turned 30. I have real concerns. [It’s best to] go ahead and eliminate the issue and get in before it’s an issue!”
His sons have already taken DNA tests to check for cancer or pre-cancer, and “it looks like that’s not a factor — but still, I’ll have peace of mind when they know for sure.”
Kevin Jr. — who shares daughters Alena, 4, and Valentina, 1, with wife Danielle, 31 — says his father’s devastating diagnosis gave him new perspective.
“For me as a dad, I look at it like: How would my family feel, my children feel, if I had to be in this position? I would want them to be taken care of,” says Kevin Jr. “There are a lot of things you can’t control — you’ve got to be prepared for anything that could come your way. A big thing for me is going to the doctor and getting regular checkups, taking care of yourself, and making healthy choices.