Wakanda Forever

I was sitting at the far end of the arena and my friends were chatting on horseback taking a break from their lesson. They were far enough away that I couldn't quite make out what they were saying. Then one word seemed to bounce across the vast divide: colonoscopy. I turned to the other spectators and said what we were all thinking -- in light of breaking news, we all need to get checked out. We lost a superhero at a time when we need great role models the most. Chadwick Boseman had been battling colon cancer since 2016. During that time, he underwent surgeries and chemotherapy while bringing us amazing performances as Thurgood Marshall in "Marshall," James Brown in "Get On Up" and King T’Challa in "Black Panther.” While shocking to lose such a vibrant and inspiring man at age 43, rates of colon cancer are rising in young people, and it remains the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. The online universe was full of tributes to Boseman. The final tweet from his Twitter account announcing his death was the most liked in the platform's history. He clearly touched so many with his talent and passion. Phylicia Rashad, who played the mom on "The Cosby Show" and many times over graced the stage of our own Alliance Theatre, spotted Boseman's potential early on. She had mentored him when he was her student at Howard University. When she learned that he was among several students who had been accepted into the British American Drama Academy's Midsummer program, but couldn't afford to attend, she called her pal Denzel Washington, who famously paid the tuition. Boseman went on to give the commencement speech to Howard's class of 2018. As part of our $10 billion film industry, Marvel shot "Black Panther" in Georgia, and I was there when they filmed the final battle scene. I was horse showing. They literally erected a flaming film set on the grounds adjacent to the show ring. My horse was unfazed, but I was fascinated. We watched warriors ride Clydesdales into battle and later discovered, when we watched it on the big screen, they used CGI animation to transform the horses into armored rhinoceroses. While I loved the action and energy of the film, what blew me away was knowing that little Black boys and girls all around the world could see that superheroes come in every color. Wakanda forever! With regard to colon cancer, Black people are at higher risk of getting it, as are Jews of Eastern European descent. But it can strike anyone at any age. Early detection is critical. While 50 used to be the recommended age for a colonoscopy, now it's 45. In 2000, TODAY Show host Katie Couric boldly got a colonoscopy on live TV after losing her husband to colon cancer. It was the first time I remember anyone publicly talking about it. I've now had two, thankfully both negative. If you've never had one, know that the prep is worse than the procedure. But the early detection it can provide could be life-saving. We need to be brave; we must talk about it. Chadwick Boseman. R.I.P.

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