Inside Chadwick Boseman’s cancer battle – weight loss lie to tragic final words
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The world knew star Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther star T’Challa, the fearless king of Wakanda who would do anything to protect his people.
The tragic death of Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer at age 43 has stunned the world. Boseman, a prominent actor had been secretly battling cancer for four years. Boseman forged a career as one of Hollywood’s biggest rising stars.
He lit up the big screen playing Jackie Robinson in “42” and James Brown in “Get on Up.”
But his biggest legacy was giving countless children their first African American superhero to look up to in the first predominantly black cast of a Marvel film.
On August 28, 2020, Hollywood’s best kept secret was revealed: “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.”
Not much is known about the actor’s tragic death and why he chose to keep his illness a secret. As we approach the one-year anniversary of his death, we reflect on his secret battle with cancer and the lives he touched throughout his remarkable career.
He fought Colon Cancer for Four Years
Chadwick Boseman didn’t slow down while battling colon cancer from 2016 until tragic his death.
The actor was diagnosed with the diseases in stage three in 2016 but continued to work amidst secret surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. Throughout that time, he filmed seven incredible films, including Marshall (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), 21 Bridges (2019), Da 5 Bloods (2020) and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020).
Michael Greene, Boseman's agent, later revealed that the "Black Panther" actor "was really in hard-core pain" while filming one of his last roles in Netflix's "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom," and in an emotional tribute, Boseman's "Black Panther" director shared that he wasn't "privy to the details of his illness".
"I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him. Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering," Coogler wrote.
Howard University's president, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, revealed that during a dinner with Boseman he assumed the actor lost weight for a role and asked Boseman about the weight-loss.
"He gave a long, detailed answer, explaining that he was a vegetarian and was exercising and trying to take care of himself and do what he had to do," Frederick said. "It was a very thoughtful response, never letting on that anything else was happening."
His Inner Circle of Support
In the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s death, it became apparent that not many people knew the actor was battling colon cancer for the past four years, not even close friends, colleagues and the cast of his hit Marvel movies.
Famously private Chadwick reportedly told a select group of people in his inner circle about the diagnosis, while continuing to work as he received treatment behind the scenes.
Boseman’s agent Michael Greene was part of a very small circle who knew about his dire health condition. The group also included his wife Simone Leeward, producing partner Logan Coles and his trainer Addison Henderson.
It has also been reported that Boseman's mother, Carolyn Boseman, advised him to keep his cancer diagnosis a secret. Greene said the actor's mother "always taught him not to have people fuss over him."
Regarding his decision to not reveal his diagnosis, he added, "Boseman also felt in this business that people trip out about things, and he was a very, very private person."
He was Determined to film Black Panther 2
As Boseman continued full steam ahead on his filming projects while battling cancer, sources close to him have said he was convinced until about a week before his death that he was going to beat cancer and return for a Black Panther sequel.
Boseman told his inner circle that he was convinced he would be able to gain the weight back before the sequel was scheduled to go into production in March of 2020.
The actor was even set to prepare for the new film beginning in September. His determination was demonstrated in the countless movies he was able to fil, all while undergoing countless surgeries and chemotherapy.
As Marvel look ahead to Black Panther 2, director Coogler, said: “It’s difficult. You’ve got to keep going when you lose loved ones. I know Chad wouldn’t have wanted us to stop.”
Chadwick's brother Pastor Derrick later opened up about his brother's final words to him, with the brothers speaking the day before the actor died.
Talking to the New York Times, Derrick revealed Chadwick told him: "Man, I’m in the fourth quarter, and I need you to get me out of the game."
Derrick added: "When he told me that, I changed my prayer from, 'God heal him, God save him,' to 'God, let your will be done,' And the next day he passed away."
Chadwick died at home in Los Angeles surrounded by his family and was buried near his hometown in South Carolina.
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