Cumming Woman, Discovered on YouTube, Joins Cancer Battle
By Bill Hendrick
For the ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION
Jamie Len Cumbo discovered her life’s calling long before Hollywood discovered her on YouTube.
Steve Cumbo, for the AJC Jamie Len Cumbo speaks out whenever and to whomever she can about the importance of wearing sunscreen and being aware of the danger signs of skin cancer, which can save lives, as it did hers.
Tinseltown’s gain, which resulted in a starring role in a Nike commercial that ran first on Super Bowl Sunday, could help her achieve her philanthropic goals.
These include using her passion and celebrity to raise awareness about cancer but also to take part in Michelle Obama’s uphill battle against childhood obesity.
Cumbo, 29, already appears in an inspirational spot on the website of the New York-based Skin Cancer Foundation, and speaks out whenever and to whomever she can about the importance of wearing sunscreen and being aware of the danger signs of skin cancer, which can save lives, as it did hers.
She’s also encouraging people with weight problems to tackle the issue by “jump roping” — the sport that led to her “discovery” by a Hollywood casting agent in January and a major spot in new Nike commercials.
Here’s her story in a nutshell. In 2004, Cumbo noticed a mole on her stomach and went to a dermatologist, who wasn’t too concerned. But because she’d grown up in the sun, she insisted the new mole be removed. It turned out to be a stage II malignant melanoma, one of the deadliest cancers.
She changed dermatologists, and her new one, Dr. Alexander Gross, also of Cumming, says she is now “in the best prognosis category” with a “97 to 99 percent” cure rate.
Still, she watches her body for new moles “constantly” and has had more surgeries on atypical ones.
In 2008, Cumbo, a University of Georgia graduate, became more health conscious. After “hitting a plateau” with her weight loss efforts, she picked up a jump rope, just for fun, and realized she had a natural talent, learning to whip it around faster than the eye can see.
A friend made a videotape of a rope-jumping session, named it “the Jump Rope Queen,” and posted it on YouTube in 2008.
On Jan. 5, Cumbo got an email from the friend who shot the video who said a Hollywood casting agent was looking for her. She called the agent that afternoon “and they asked me to fly to L.A. the next day to film a national TV commercial.”
She and her husband, Steve Cumbo, were cautious. But after checking it out, she flew to L.A. on Jan. 6, was picked up by a chauffeur and taken to a swanky hotel. And she was on the TV set all day Jan. 7.
After the shoot, “they just said good luck,” and she returned home. She didn’t hear more until Super Bowl Sunday.
She and her husband watched the game with her parents in Roswell, but to their disappointment, didn’t see the ad. But before they’re reached Cumming, she got several text messages telling her the Nike ad had played on the ESPN Super Bowl post show. It’s still playing. (See it on her blog, TheJumpRopeQueen.com).
“It’s a Cinderella story, ” says her mother, Cathi Lund. “It’s been on ABC, Bravo, MTV as well as ESPN.”
Cumbo plans to do more for the Skin Cancer Foundation, as well as for the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.
“I want to use this Nike experience to bring awareness to skin cancer, specifically melanoma,” she says. “I’d also like to get involved with the ‘Fuel Up to Play 60’ movement encouraging kids to live a healthy life and to be more active. I want to save lives with the power of the jump rope.”