NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar announced he’s been living with cancer, but it hasn’t benched him yet.
Kareem, 62, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” today that he was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia a year ago. It’s a rare blood and bone marrow cancer that “affects your white blood cell output.”
“I had noticed that I was having hot flashes and sweats,” Kareem said. “I’m not going through menopause, so I really needed to know what that was about. I talked to my doctor about it.”
The former basketball player’s physician suggested running a few tests, which came back showing extremely high counts of white blood cells. Kareem was then referred to a specialist who diagnosed him with PH+CML.
“For me, I thought it was a death sentence,” said Kareem, who has a family history of cancer. However, he noted that his prognosis is pretty good right now because he’s following orders from his doctors. That means he has to go in for regular blood work and take his prescribed medication regimen.
“If I can do this as I’m told to do it, I can manage it. This does not have to be a death sentence, “ he said. “My whole thing in coming public with this is to let people know who have to face these circumstances that they can prevail. They can continue to live meaningful lives. Things do not have to stop all of a sudden.”
So since Kareem will be around for a while, he’s putting out a children’s book about inventors of color. It won’t be hitting store shelves until 2011, though.
– Sonya Eskridge