Anderson’s message to his million-plus followers: “Guess what I’m doing tonight? Prepping for my first colonoscopy tomorrow. I suggest all men especially men of color get this done. I say at age 45. [But] check with your doctor! Health is wealth!”
What was he actually thinking? “You know, I wasn’t scared,” Anderson says. “I had friends who went through the procedure. It’s a serious issue, but we don’t have to make it a serious thing.”
Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the U. S., and Black people are not only 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disease but also 40 percent more likely to die from it than most other groups, according to the American Cancer Society. That same organization now urges regular screenings for people of average risk starting at age 45.
One day later, Anderson posted a video from inside a hospital room. Sporting a light-purple gown and a white hairnet, he lay down on the medical table and cracked a Michael Jackson joke.
But in between, his usual nonchalance faded and his vulnerability showed through. “Look, I recommend that men and women get this,” he told Instagram. “Especially men and women of color, but in particular, men of color.”
During that plea, Anderson says, he was thinking of actor Chadwick Boseman, who had died of colon cancer at age 43, just two months prior. “Chadwick was a wake-up call for me. We should be encouraging our brothers and sisters to get this done—and done before it’s too late.”
This wasn’t Anderson’s first foray into supporting health causes. He has type 2 diabetes and partnered with an organization to broadcast prevention and management measures. He’s raised money for Alzheimer’s treatment. This past August, he cohosted a Stand Up to Cancer event in honor of Boseman.
“Unfortunately, I lost my father to complications due to diabetes,” Anderson says. “By the time he was diagnosed, he’d probably been diabetic for 20 years. That’s what this is about. I have a platform I can speak from. I want to spread life.”
CHANGE LIVES NOW
Remember Anderson’s line “It’s a serious issue, but we don’t have to make it a serious thing.” Then use it as motivation to open up to friends or family when you’re going through something rough—anxiety, depression, infertility. Who knows who else is going through it (or has, or will), too?
A version of this article originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Men’s Health.
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