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Giving Survivors a Voice through Podcasting: the Maverick Lee Silverstein

LeeSilversteinby Dr. Robin McGee, CKN Editor, Survivor, Advocate


Even one person can make a difference.


Lee Silverstein was diagnosed with stage II colorectal cancer by routine screening colonoscopy at 50.  He had been married only 30 days when he learned it had metastasized to his liver and later, his lungs.  Devastated, he was plunged into years of treatment: a liver resection, chemotherapy, and ongoing radio ablations.


Despite his diagnosis, Lee continued to work full time at Sanford-Brown College.  While attending a small business presentation about podcasting, Lee formed the germ of an idea: “What if I could do this for colorectal cancer?”


With no background in podcasting, and only minimal equipment, he sat down in front of a microphone to podcast for the first time.  He felt like he was “broadcasting to an audience of one.”  His mission was the tagline of The Colon Cancer Podcast: to give Information, Inspiration, and Hope.


He started interviewing survivors and medical experts.  Over 75 interviews later, he continues to seek ways to bring forward the human side of cancer survival.


Lee found a new way to advocate, and promote advocacy.  He has interviewed dozens of survivors, caregivers and medical professionals dedicated to such issues as awareness, early screening, improved detection, and access to treatment and clinical trials.  Lee has drilled down into the issues facing different cultural groups, young adults, and even different nations.   (He has even interviewed yours truly).   Besides showcasing personal models of advocacy in the form of his guests, he also teaches about advocacy opportunities: for example, FightCRC’s  One Million Strong Million march on Washington for CRC awareness.


His advice to those seeking to advocate to improve cancer care?  “Just take that first step,” he counsels. “Write that letter to your local paper, post on Facebook about that awareness run, talk to your elected leaders.  It only takes one step to get started.”   Now, Lee has had the indescribable pleasure of hearing from many listeners how the show inspired them towards improved healthcare for themselves and others.


Lee’s show has recently been profiled in the film “The Messengers: A Podcast Documentary“.  Soon to be available on iTunes, the film shows how social change can be driven by grassroots voices.  When the portion about Lee was screened, the audience burst into spontaneous applause.

Today, the Colon Cancer Podcast has been listened to in all 50 states and in over 70 other countries.  The show is downloaded close to 2000 times per month.  He has recently started a new initiative: The Cancer Radio Network, where he plans to broaden his reach into other forms of cancer.

Even one person can make a difference.




RobinMcGeeDr. Robin McGee (The Cancer Olympics, Twitter @TCOrobin), is a Registered Clinical Psychologist, mother, wife, educator and friend. Living in Nova Scotia, she has worked in health and education settings for over 30 years.  She has been very active in advocacy, mentorship, and fundraising on behalf of cancer patients. In particular, she has been involved in provincial, national, and international initiatives aimed at improving standards of cancer care. She has been awarded the Canadian Cancer Society’s highest honour, the National Medal of Courage.  Robin was also decorated by the Governor General of Canada with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers .  Her book The Cancer Olympics has won seven literary awards, and was listed among the best 55 self-published books of 2015.  Proceeds of sales go to cancer support programs. The Cancer Olympics is available from Amazon and Indigo.  She is currently in treatment for a recurrence of her colorectal cancer.



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