Jay Marvin on his wife's possible breast cancer and the decision to pass the torch to David Sirota at AM 760
Earlier today, Jay Marvin appeared on the AM 760 program he used to host with David Sirota, who's been named his permanent replacement. And those who missed hearing it may not get another chance to catch him on the outlet's airwaves.
"If he asks me, I'll go on again," Marvin says. "But for now, that was my swan song."
A poignant one it was, too -- because in addition to talking about the health problems that have kept him from working for most of this year, and will continue to do so for an undetermined amount of time longer, he revealed that his wife, Mary, who's devoted herself to helping him recover, may have breast cancer.
Marvin's medical crisis, documented in blogs like this one, isn't threatening his life at this point. But it's far from resolved.
"I go to rehab five days a week, and I have good days and I have bad days," he says. "I'm not a junkie, but I've been on narcotics for nine months now, and that kind of impairs me at times. I have to strengthen my legs and my hip muscles and work on my balance.
"Some days I can walk a little bit, and other days, I can't get out of a chair. So it's hard to explain when people ask how I'm doing. Sometimes I can get up out of a chair and walk and feel like I'm doing it. And then, the next day, I'm like a spent shotgun, a car that's out of gas. I can't do anything at all, and I don't know how long it's going to take to get back to where I was. This whole process could take up to eighteen months."
Marvin has nothing but praise for Kris Olinger and Lee Larsen, his supervisors at Clear Channel Denver. "They've been great to me. They're the best I've worked for in 35 years of doing this. They were huge supporters, and they kept the job open for as long as they could."
In the end, though, all parties realized that the current situation was untenable.
"My coming-back date is uncertain -- and I don't know if I'll ever be able to come back," he concedes. "There's just no way of knowing. Anyone with back problems knows it's extremely difficult to sit in one place. And let's not forget, I had a ten-hour surgery. My back looked like a zipper. And now I'm trying to learn how to walk again -- which is the second time in a year I've had to do it. The hardware in my back has to fuse with the bone and the rest of my body. I'm very limited in what I can do."
At that point, "we agreed that they couldn't hold the position open indefinitely," Marvin continues. "And when they asked me, 'Who would you choose to take your place?,' I said, 'There's only one guy I know of. And that's David Sirota.'"
In Marvin's view, Sirota is "the world's smartest man. I don't know if you've ever seen him on CNN or MSNBC, but I saw him on one night with three conservatives, including Ann Coulter, and he shredded all of them. It was amazing. And he also got the better of Mike Rosen in their debate -- the one when Rosen started to get upset. That's why I told them, 'You should hire him -- because he's smart, he's got a sense of humor, and he's articulate.'"
Sirota accepted the job, and Marvin made plans to appear with him today, little knowing that he'd have another potential medical nightmare to share with listeners.
"We got some bad news yesterday: There's the possibility that Mary may have breast cancer," he says. "We've had everything heaped on us except the kitchen sink. We'll know Monday for sure what's happening; she's been undergoing tests. But whatever happens, I'll stand by her and we'll make it. I mean, look what we've gone through the last nine months.
Jay and Mary Marvin, June 2009.
Photo by Michael Roberts
"Mary is the best. She's my angel, and she's done everything for me under any circumstances. If she faces breast cancer, we'll stand together -- and no matter what we find out on Monday, we'll have the best Christmas present ever, because we have each other. And for that I thank God or Buddha or Karl Marx or whoever. I'm the luckiest man in the world."
In the meantime, Marvin's got plenty to keep him busy. "I have rehab, and I'm working on a novel. It'll be my second one; the first one was published twelve years ago. And I'm working on a web project."
These activities are a lot more edifying than watching daytime television. Referencing one of Maury Povich's stock lines, he declares, "I am not the father of David Sirota!" But he appreciates Sirota's kind words about him, as well as "all the cards and e-mails and phone calls from people I've gotten this year. I really want to thank them. This is the greatest city I've ever worked in."
He plans on staying in Colorado, and continue to work with his present medical team, at least until "I can talk care of myself -- until I can walk, until I can go up and down stairs."
None of that's easy, especially on the bad days. Even so, he says, "all you can do is laugh, smile and keep trying to move forward."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.