Alejandro Escovedo had an unlikely path to fame. Though he comes from a musical family—brothers Coke and Pete played with Santana and niece Sheila E. is a well-known pop star—he did not begin playing music until his mid-twenties, when he worked on a film about a band that couldn’t play. His music has defied genre, with influences from garage rock, country, punk and traditional Mexican music.
His fans know him as a rocker and a musician, but Escovedo now has another identity to his name: hepatitis C survivor.
Escovedo was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1996, and his illness intensified—and was brought into the spotlight—when he collapsed on-stage in 2003. At the time of his diagnosis, Escovedo was unaware that hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of liver cancer. More than 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with liver cancer this year and hepatitis C will cause at least 50% of those cases. Hepatitis C is especially dangerous because it does not always present signs and symptoms until someone has been infected for a long period of time. By the time Escovedo collapsed on stage, he had advanced cirrhosis of the liver, as well as tumors in his abdomen and varices in his esophagus.
He has said, “Getting sick was like walking on a beautiful sunny day, and suddenly a piano falls on you from out of nowhere.”
Today, Escovedo is cured of hepatitis C and feeling well. Now he wants you to have the information he didn’t have: that hepatitis C is linked to cancer, and if you are at risk you need to get screened for this virus before it leads to cancer.
“Many people are unaware of the link between hepatitis C and cancer,” Escovedo said. “I am proud to join with the Prevent Cancer Foundation to tell you to take charge of your health and think about the link between viruses and cancer.”