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Corey Foister Profiled in Cincinnati Enquirer

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

How Jon Stewart's Daily Show & Surviving Stage IV Cancer Motivated Local Activist To Run For U.S. Congress in Ohio's 8th Congressional District.

Published June 3, 2016 on Featured on Page 5A on Sunday, June 5th printed edition of Cincinnati Enquirer

Growing up in Fairfield, Corey Foister didn’t idolize former presidents Bill Clinton or John F. Kennedy. He worshiped comedians Richard Pryor and George Carlin. His parents never talked about politics. They didn’t even vote until Corey pushed them to register for the 2006 midterms. But that didn’t stop Corey Foister from becoming so obsessed he started his own political website when he was a teenager. The website, Political Head, would eventually land Mr. Foister and his high school friends on the front page of their local newspaper, The Fairfield Echo.

It was 10:50 p.m. an average weeknight in 2004. Foister was watching Comedy Central when “The Daily Show” came on. Politics. At that time, he had such little interest in them he almost changed the channel. Then Jon Stewart did his impression of former President George W. Bush.

More than a decade later, sitting in The Enquirer’s office Downtown, Foister remembers it perfectly. He instinctively hunches over and brings his hands out in front of him. He laughs, mimicking Stewart’s insulting snicker of the former president.

Foister was hooked. And he’s not ashamed to admit Stewart is the one who sparked his interest.

“Growing up in a ridiculously conservative area during the height of the Iraq War was pretty isolating. You're labeled anti-American and deemed unpatriotic if you questioned the competence of the Republican Party. Jon said what I was thinking and did it with comedy. The Daily Show became my sanctuary growing up in a small conservative town.”

From Cancer to Congress

Now 26, Foister is running for U.S. Congress. He seeks to replace former House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester Twp.), who represented Ohio’s 8th District for more than two decades. The fact that Foister is a Democrat running in Ohio’s most conservative congressional district is not the most unlikely part of his story.

Foister was diagnosed with neuroblastoma days before he turned seven months old. Neuroblastoma is a rare childhood cancer, with only 700 to 800 new cases diagnosed each year. With what Foister’s mom, Tina, described as a stomach full of cancer, doctors gave him a 50 percent chance to live. He soon went from a baby with a full head of hair to one his parents’ friends couldn’t recognize when they visited.

Foister, before and after Chemotherapy & radiation therapy

Foister was too young to remember much. But he remembers the pain — from chemotherapy to bone marrow tests to something as simple as getting his finger pricked hundreds of times. He uses his hand to draw a line across his chest. It’s the large scar left from surgery where doctors removed his left adrenal gland — and most of the cancer. Doctors declared him cancer-free when he was around 18 months old.

“I have to do something big,” he promised himself later, "I was gave this second chance at life and I'm not just living for myself, I'm living for everyone fighting cancer and those who didn't get that second opportunity." Foister credits his fight with cancer with his ability to emphasize with other people's struggles.

But he hasn’t always lived up to that promise. The scar and other side effects from chemotherapy left him battling self-esteem issues. In school, he was quiet and shy.

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