American actor Chadwick Boseman, who had achieved ground-breaking success with his role King T’Challa in Black Panther movie, passed away on Friday due to colon cancer. His family issued a statement in the actor’s social media platform and made public that he had been fighting colon cancer for the last four years.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said in the statement. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more- all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honour of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.” “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said in the statement.
Celebrities and people took to social media to mourn over the loss of an actor, who ignited a much-needed change in the film industry. Boseman grew into fame by bringing the lives of Black icons Jackie Robinson and music pioneer James Brown in the big screens through his movies 42 and Get on Up respectively. His portrayal of baseball legend Jackie Robinson gave him his first break, and it is a chance occurrence that Chadwick passed away on the same day that Major League Baseball was celebrating the Jackie Robinson Day.
His role as King T’Challa in Black Panther gave him a status that was never before acclaimed to any superhero. The movie came 14th on the top-grossing movies of all-time list, but the success of the film went beyond box office grosses. It is difficult to overstate the impact that Black Panther and Boseman had on the larger audience. It gave a new cultural identity that the Black population could connect with. He became the first superhero that black kids could look up to. The statement Wakanda Forever from the movie became more of a solidarity symbol for the Black community than a movie catchphrase. Boseman was a representative of the Black Movement and was vocal against the atrocities happening around the world against the Blacks and the minority communities. He was even sceptical of a career in Hollywood due to his colour but ended up becoming the face of a revolution with his role as the Black Panther.
It suddenly seems miraculous that he managed to complete so many films within the short duration, while quietly undergoing many surgeries and chemotherapy sessions.
Messages also started pouring in of how the signs were there in his previous social media posts, with him visibly skinny and frail in some of them. He had also been recently bullied on the internet on his appearance and how he was becoming too weak. It came to the point where he had started deleting these posts. It has become evident now that his weak appearances over the last few months were due to the cancer and its subsequent treatment. A video from 2018 has also started doing rounds in the social media, where he was talking about the impact that Black Panther made in the society, when he became emotional and mentioned about two kids who were diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away before the movie released. The kids were trying to hold on to their lives to watch the film, and the actor talks about how he was surprised on how much impact the movie had on both the kids and on the society as a whole. The whole video becomes a lot more emotional when we find out that he was also affected with cancer at that point.
Chadwick Boseman’s Cancer
Chadwick was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2016 and was undergoing treatment, including surgeries and chemotherapy cycles according to the official statement released by his family. His death has sparked a considerable spike in the number of people looking to know more about colon cancer and colon cancer symptoms. Colon cancer is also known as colorectal cancer, rectal cancer and bowel cancer. Colon cancer occurs when healthy cells surrounding the rectum or colon start to undergo changes and reach a stage where their growth into tumours becomes uncontrollable. These tumours can be benign, malignant or non- cancerous. These tumours can also spread into other parts and move on to stage 4 colon cancer as it happened with Chadwick.
In most cases, colon cancer is known to begin as a non- cancerous growth called a polyp, but if not appropriately diagnosed, it can turn into life-threatening cancer.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
There are several symptoms and early signs of colon cancer that we must be wary about since early diagnosis is the key to survival in all types of cancer. It is highly advisable to be aware of all the symptoms of cancers to screen yourself before the cancer spreads inside your body.
Some of the prominent colon cancer symptoms are:
- For a person having colon cancer, there will be visible changes in the bowel movements.
- Constipation or diarrhoea.
- They may also feel a sense of fullness in the stomach, even without eating for hours.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Abdominal pain and bloating.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Deficiency of iron
- Sudden weight loss.
- A lump in the anal tract or abdomen.
- Sometimes, the person may not feel as if the bowel has emptied even after a bowel movement.
It is always necessary to get yourself checked if any of these symptoms persist for more than four weeks or if it affects your daily life activities.
Colon Cancer Causes
Unlike other types of cancer such as lung cancer and head or neck cancer, which are mostly caused due to human habits, scientists are still on the dark as to the exact cause of colon cancer. But what we do know is that the primary cause for colon cancer is the mutation of the DNA in cells located nearby the rectum or colon, which incites an uncontrollable growth or division of cells, which the immune system of our body won’t be able to stop. This results in the growth of tumours, which results in colon cancer.
Is Colon Cancer Curable
Colon cancer is curable with an overall 5-year survival rate of 63%. If the cancer is diagnosed at a localised stage, this goes up to 90%, and if it has already spread, the survival rate is at 71%. But a late detection of cancer adds more risk to the patient, with stage 3 colon cancer having a 40% chance of cure while stage 4 has only a 10% chance of cure. It is important to note that Chadwick was diagnosed after his disease had already reached stage 3 colon cancer.
Colon cancer treatment depends upon the various factors such as the size and location of the tumour, and the stage at which it is diagnosed. These treatment procedures include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Except for cases in stage 4 colon cancer, surgery is done initially to remove the tumour, followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Colon cancer stage 3 treatment: By stage 3, colon cancers would have spread to the nearby lymph nodes. The standard treatment procedure for this stage is to conduct surgery to remove the cancerous colon area along with the nearby lymph nodes. Anastomosis (a procedure to connect healthy sections of tubular structures in the body after the diseased portion has been surgically removed) may be done along with chemotherapy. In some cases, chemotherapy is done before the surgery to shrink the cancer, so that it can be surgically removed.
Colon cancer stage 4 treatment: When the cancer has reached stage 4, on most occasions, surgery would be unlikely to cure it. Treatment will be done to prolong life or to reduce the pain. Small metastases in the liver or lungs may be removed to offer comfort to the patients. Chemotherapy is mainly used for stage 4 patients to reduce the tumours. Most surgeries are done to prevent symptoms of cancer at this stage, rather than cure it. Patients also join clinical trials with the aim of curing or reducing their pain.
Integrative treatment for colon cancer patients includes intervention on three levels- biology, lifestyle and conventional treatment. Adopting nutritional therapies, physical care modalities and conventional therapies will improve the condition of the patient, as well as provide relief on the symptoms of the disease and effects of the treatment.
To read more about colon cancer, click here. Also, if you feel that you or your close ones are showing some symptoms of colon cancer, you can relieve your doubts by talking to our patient care manager at ZenOnco.io.