The city of broad shoulders is welcoming back a broadcast favorite to the television airwaves. Last week, ABC-7 news anchor Hosea Sanders made his return to the news program with his radiant smile and laid-back demeanor.
For the past four months, Sanders has undergone treatment for prostate cancer, taking a leave of absence from the evening co-anchor seat. Prior to leading the ABC-7 evening broadcast on WCIU, he held the morning slot for nearly 22 years.
“That was the most difficult thing. We’re so used to being on that clock, on that treadmill—running and gunning. For me to be forced to focus on myself for a change, to give to myself as opposed to always giving to everyone else. I was going back and forth to Northwestern Hospital visiting doctors, for therapy, scans, blood work. That’s another whole schedule and I’m still doing that,” he said.
Saunders has worked in broadcast for four decades, taking his first professional gig at KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas. Growing up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas he excelled in football and track. He went on to attend Henderson State University where he received his B.A. degree in Communications and Journalism.
Since those earlier days in radio, Sanders has had impressive and stellar career in broadcast journalism working in both Dallas and Los Angeles for several years before finally joining Chicago’s ABC-7 in August 1994.
The Emmy award-winning journalist has endured an incredible journey filled with love, laughter, heartbreaking stories and long-lasting friendships.
“You never know how your friends feel about you until you really need me. Some of my friends especially Sylvia Perez and my friend Vivian King out of Milwaukee got together and organized a food caravan. So, everyday somebody else was sending a meal over or making something,” said Saunders. “The first few weeks of my treatment, my brother was here helping me. They would make sure it was something hot and good to eat. It was such a loving gesture—a real friendship that they would do this for me. I was ready to come back.”
The Road to Recovery
Although, he says he received the clearance from his doctors to return—the road to recovery is very real. He’s currently undergoing hormone therapy and will resume radiation at the end of August to allow some internal healing. Through the rigorous process of back and forth visits to Northwestern Hospital, it would have been more difficult without the support of his colleagues at ABC-7.
“The station has been outstanding. They looked out for me better than I looked out for myself,” he laughs. “My news director would alert me on important paperwork. We’re not used to going to through the insurance stuff, benefits and packages. They would sometimes watch out for me or some deadline that was coming up. Also, to check up and see how I was doing.”
Saunders admits the delay in following up on his health is a major factor in fighting his illness. To share his experience openly has welcomed thousands of responses on social media and allowed platform to encourage men to test for prostate cancer.
“I heard so many people who went to get the test after I came out publicly. One out of five Black men would get it. People think it’s the finger test or a colonoscopy, that’s not it. There aren’t no signs or symptoms. You have to take the blood test. My father had it. I would get tested because of that,” he admits. “I did what I tell people not to do. I waited too late. I got the information and thought, ‘it’s probably something there’. I’ll take care of it later. I had so much going on. I was taking care of my mom and busy doing the job that it got to the point, they were saying ‘these numbers are troubling, please do something about it.’ I finally got a certified letter from the medical office saying I had to come in now.”
Within two weeks, Sanders was having surgery.
Feeling The Support Around Him
His furry companion, Buddy has helped him throughout his healing process—taking time communicate with people about the importance staying on top of one’s health. One of Sanders’ goal was to return back to work in time for the annual Bud Billiken parade in August. For several years, ABC-7 has aired the live broadcast of the largest African-American parade in the US and Saunders has shared hosting duties.
“That was one of my goals. We are the type of people who like goals. That was one of my goals in my healing. No matter what, I want to be up and ready for the Bud Billiken. That’s our tradition—that’s us. I’ve been doing it for so many years and like hanging out with Jim [Rose] and Cheryl [Burton]. Even before the parade, I enjoy walking along the route; shaking hands and smelling that barbecue. Getting a little rib or two and being out there—celebrating the good things about Chicago. This is our time to shine and show what we’re not what they say we are,” He smiles, “I was going to make it. They would’ve had to Skype me in. I was so happy the doctors released me in time.”
Upon his return back to public life, Sanders says his faith, family and friends were not the only driving forces to his recovery.
“For me, I really work out there. It’s not about covering a story. This is my home and I care about the people. They have been so good to me sometimes you wonder if you deserve it. People have embraced me and swooped me up. That is one of the reasons why I wanted to do the parade this year so I can say ‘thank you’.”