Leon begins his fight with colon cancer

WICHITA, Kansas – One of the questions we often receive at KSN is, what is Leon like in real life?

The simple answer is exactly the same as he is on television.

From his passion to motorcycles, to his love of dogs and even his hatred of snakes, Leon wants you to know him through the good times and the bad.

Even though life’s road recently took an unexpected turn, he has courageously invited all of us to come along for the ride.

I have colon cancer. It’s not early detection, but it’s not too late.”

“I can have a long day at work, a tough day, whatever’s going on in my personal life, I get on my bike, I start it up and within two miles, it’s gone.”

Wind therapy he calls it. As a meteorologist, Leon has the advantage of seeing it coming. These days are rare in what should be the dead of Kansas winter.

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KSN Meteorologist Leon Smitherman giving the forecast on Kansas Today. Smitherman was diagnosed with colon cancer. He is taking his fight public to raise awareness. (KSN Photo)

“When I see three 70 degree days coming up, I make sure to schedule this time because each of these days are special, and these are just a little more special.

That perspective comes in part from his profession, but more so lately from a new challenge and a reminder to savor the little things.

“I have colon cancer. It’s not early detection, but it’s not too late.”

RELATED LINK | Basic information about colon cancer 

The diagnosis came just more than a week ago, but the screening to catch it was admittedly overdue.

“The year and a half I put it off was game changer for me. If I had been screened when I was 50 years old, I wouldn’t be going through the surgery I’m going through right now.”

RELATED LINK | What should I know about colon cancer screening? | Symptoms and risk reduction

Leon knew the recommendations. He’d done countless stories on cancer including growing his Movember beard to raise awareness for men’s health.

“But, I was also the guy who was invisible to cancer.”

Now, he is facing his own fight faced with conversations he never imagined having.

“To tell my family, to tell my son, to see their faces and how it hit them, that is the hardest part.”

The good news, doctors are very optimistic about Leon’s future.

“The survivability rate for what I have is excellent. I’ll get through this, no problem.”

The message hasn’t changed. He is taking his story public because he wants to help, not only fight for his own life but fighting, for ours too.

“If I can turn this around and make a difference for somebody else and somebody else’s family, it’s all worth it.”

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