Charlamagne tha God Brings Attention to Colon Cancer
- Lenard Larry McKelvey, professionally known as Charlamagne tha God, is a 43-year-old American radio host, TV personality and author who’s joining forces with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance for a campaign that’s meant to “[highlight] important facts about the impact of colorectal cancer among the Black community.”
- Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include a change in bowel habits, a feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one, rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, cramping or abdominal (belly) pain, weakness, fatigue and unintended weight loss.
- Colorectal cancer screenings have made a big difference in colorectal cancer prevention. But with colorectal cancer cases in younger people on the rise, the recommended age for beginning screening has been moved from 50 to 45.
Lenard Larry McKelvey, professionally known as Charlamagne tha God, is a 43-year-old American radio host, TV personality and author. And, now, he can add colorectal cancer awareness advocate to that list as he tries to bring attention to the disparities within the world of colon cancer for the Black community – something that has been coming more to light after the death of beloved actor Boseman on August 28, 2020, at age 43.Read More
And though the 83-year-old actor was not present at the ceremony on April 25, 2021, he did give an acceptance speech the following Monday morning via Instagram where he paid his respects to Boseman in a humble acknowledgement of his win.
“I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early,” Hopkins said from a picturesque backdrop in his native Wales. “I really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored.”
Charlamagne tha God’s Campaign
It hasn’t even been a year since we were forced to, again, reckon with Boseman’s devastating passing at the 2021 Oscars, but in grief there is room for intentional change. And since the tragedy, people are starting to make more noise surrounding the fight against colon cancer – including Charlamagne tha God.
Along with other celebrities, Charlamagne tha God has teamed up with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance for their “They Didn’t Say” campaign. The campaign aims to “[highlight] important facts about the impact of colorectal cancer among the Black community.” Some of which include the fact that “Black Americans are about 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer and 35% more likely to die from it.”
“There are many barriers to colorectal cancer screening that contribute to the disproportionate incidence and mortality rates among the Black community, including stigma, bias, awareness and access,” Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, said. “We believe that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare, regardless of zip code, race, income and insurance status.”
Charlamagne tha God, along with other celebrities like Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins, Mel D. Cole and Vashtie, will be serving as campaign ambassadors to try to educate others about colon cancer and the importance of screening.
“Too many of us have had friends or family that have been affected by colorectal cancer, so it’s important for me to speak out and help eliminate any embarrassment surrounding colorectal cancer screening,” Charlamagne tha God said of the campaign. “Hopefully this campaign will lead to more important conversations, screening and access to resources to help prevent this disease from further affecting our communities.”
And for Charlamagne tha God, this campaign is personal.
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“I had a friend who passed away of colon cancer a few years ago,” he said in a promotional instagram video. “My mindset was, I thought you didn’t even have to get you know screened for colon cancer until you was like in your 50s… Prioritize yourself.”
Understanding Colorectal Cancer
The term colorectal cancer is used to describe cancers that begin in the colon or the rectum – so some people just use the term colon cancer if that’s where the disease began.
Colorectal cancer, like all cancers, presents its own unique challenges for patients on the road to recovery. But Dr. Heather Yeo, a surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, wants to remind people how far the treatment of this disease has come.
“One of the most exciting things about my job is that we’ve made a lot of progress on treatment options,” Dr. Yeo says in a previous interview with SurvivorNet. “However, patients are still — while they’re living longer, they are still living with colon cancer, and so I think it’s really important that we talk about how some of the things in your life affect you.”
Colorectal cancer might not immediately cause symptoms, but these are possible symptoms to look out for:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
It is important to note, however, that displaying some of these symptoms does not mean you have colorectal cancer. You could also have colon cancer and not display any of these symptoms. Regardless, it is important to bring up any symptoms to your doctor should they arise.
Dr. Yeo also emphasizes the importance of colorectal cancer screenings such as colonoscopies because most colorectal cancers can be prevented early with screening.
“In the United States, on a national level, colorectal cancer has been decreasing for the last 20 years,” Dr. Yeo says. “And much of that is thought to be directly due to screening for colon cancer.”
Even still, colorectal cancer cases are rising among younger people. And in the United States alone, rates have increased every year from 2011 to 2016 by 2 percent among people younger than 50. Because of this increase, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has recently updated its colorectal cancer screening recommendations to begin at age 45 instead of 50.
“We know that colon cancers can be prevented when polyps are found early,” Dr. Yeo said. “Lowering the screening age helps somewhat with this. But access to care is a real problem.”
And increasing access is crucial to making sure that we don’t see racial disparities within the world of colorectal cancer. Whites and Asians are significantly more likely to be up to date with their colonoscopies than African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.
Research suggests that tailoring colon cancer screenings to each person’s individual risk may be beneficial. If you are not yet 45 but have concerns about your risk, talk to your doctor. Ask about your individual risk based on your lifestyle and family history and find out when screenings would be right for you.