James Casey, the talented saxophonist best known for his work with Trey Anastasio Band, has announced that he has been diagnosed with colon cancer. In a post to his social media accounts on Wednesday, Casey detailed his harrowing medical situation and revealed that seasoned saxophonist Cochemea “Cheme” Gastelum will fill in for him on the upcoming TAB tour as he undergoes treatment. Read the full note from James Casey about his cancer diagnosis below.
A little over a month ago, I went to the ER with severe abdominal pain that I thought was appendicitis. It turned out to be a large tumor that was blocking my colon. While the emergency surgery was successful (and I’m about 90% recovered from that), the tumor was malignant. Cancer, stage 3. While the great team at Mt Sinai Beth Israel did a phenomenal job and believe they removed everything, as a precaution, I begin Chemotherapy today.
Under normal circumstances (as private as I am) I would have kept this to family and very close friends until it was over. However, I felt I needed to say something publicly for 2 reasons:
1) I am entirely too young and healthy to have colon cancer and yet I do. It’s the same thing that took out Chadwick [Boseman] and I’m definitely younger than he was. Everyone should get tested, but especially if you are a Black Man. We are 40% more likely to get this particular type of cancer…so much so that being African American is considered a warning sign for it. If you’re 35+ please consider getting checked, and make sure to pay attention to your digestive health.
2) I won’t be able to do the TAB tour that starts this weekend. I’m extremely disappointed, but my good friend and amazing saxophonist Cheme (@cochemea) will be there in my place as I recover.
I want to reiterate that the treatment is a preventative measure and the docs believe my prognosis is great. I’m thanking you in advance for your prayers, thoughts, vibes and whatever else you’re trying to send to help me get better! I’d also ask that you respect my family’s and my own privacy, and I’ll make sure to let y’all know how it’s going. If you reach out and I don’t reply quickly, know that it’s all love. It’s just a whole lot happening and I’ll get back to you when I can. #fuckcancer
Despite the lack of “regular” live shows, Casey had been keeping busy during the pandemic. In addition to serving as a co-host of Live For Live Music‘s Justice Comes Alive virtual festival last June, James took part in several weeks of Anastasio’s The Beacon Jams virtual residency last fall and joined Billy & The Kids, Carlos Santana, and Billy Strings for the Grateful Mahalo streaming event in Hawaii this past spring. He later joined Bill Kreutzmann and company for a run of in-person shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in July.
Cheme will not be the only new face on stage when Trey Anastasio Band tour kicks off this Friday, September 17th in Portland, ME. Dezron Douglas will also be heading out on his first tour as the Trey Anastasio Band bassist following the sudden passing of founding TAB member Tony Markellis earlier this year.
Wishing all the best and a very speedy recovery to our friend, James Casey. You’ve got this.
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