Citing the way Los Angeles Lakers teammate Magic Johnson brought awareness to HIV, Abdul-Jabbar said he wants to do the same for his form of blood cancer, which can be fatal if left untreated.
“I’ve never been a person to share my private life. But I can help save lives,” he said at a midtown Manhattan conference room. “It’s incumbent on someone like me to talk about this.”
Abdul-Jabbar became concerned last year after feeling odd sensations. He went for tests at UCLA, where he dominated college basketball in the late 1960s, winning three straight NCAA championships from 1967-69.
“I was getting hot flashes and sweats on a regular basis,” he said. “That’s not normal, even for my age.”
An exam showed his white blood cell count was “sky high” and a doctor quickly diagnosed his condition. At first, all Abdul-Jabbar heard was the word “leukemia.”
“I was scared,” he said. “I thought it was all the same. I thought it could mean I have a month to live.”
“That was my first question,” he said. “Was I going to make it?”
Wow, that was one of the first things that caught my eye this morning on Twitter – a tweet from ESPN that Kareem Abdul-Jabber had a rare form of leukemia.
Turns out he has chronic myeloid leukemia or CML and you can hear about his story in this video (source: ESPN)
The article goes on to say:
“The six-time NBA MVP intends to post updates to his Facebook and Twitter accounts and stay connected through www.CMLearth.com, a Web site for those afflicted by the disease.”
It’s good to see him actively promoting awareness of the disease, much in the same way his old Lakers colleague Magic Johnson did for HIV related issues.
Disclosure: I’m a former employee of Novartis and marketing director of Gleevec, one of the three kinase drugs approved for the treatment of the disease, so naturally I’m a little biased as it was a truly wonderful experience to launch something that really made a difference to cancer patients lives. Mr Abdul-Jabber is a private person and therefore is discussing his disease in general, rather than which treatment regimen he is specifically following.