Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Editor's Commentary: Beyond Sports, Stuart Scott Placed A Face On Cancer For Young Black Men


It seems as though many of us have been affected by the sudden passing of Stuart Scott for a variety of reasons. Yes, he changed the way sports was delivered on a national level to the multicultural community. And yes, he showed his endearing love for family, especially with his girls. But foremost, he put a face on cancer for young black man, serving as our ambassador. Cancer is often seen as a disease for the elders. While I know that was probably not Stuart's intent, that is exactly what he did for young brothers who are drafted into the small niche community as cancer patients, cancer survivors and/or caretakers. Personally, within a few weeks after realizing I could no longer avoid having a biopsy because of my continuous unresolved symptoms, I was feverishly seeking out young brothers who had traveled this road. Fortunately, I found another brother who also happened to be in the field of sports, who served as one of my Guardian Angles.  This literally made the road down uncharted territory so much easier to plow trough. 
So, upon learning Stuart was in the third round of battling cancer, I was personally tracking his journey, since he had become so public, giving the world a peek on how he was literally fighting the disease, again. I was pulling for him, especially after being forced to walk in his shoes. And because of Stuart's candor, I have used his 2014 interview with Robin Roberts and his ESPY acceptance speech from the Jimmy V foundation, as encouragement for those recently diagnosed (or for those in their second round), as a guide on how to battle the disease, while also

trying to maintain some normalcy in one's life. Yes, that's all anyone is looking for when dealing with the disease (and without people feeling empathy for us).

More importantly, upon learning of Stuart's death, I was triggered on Sunday evening to connect with another young brother who was diagnosed with cancer several months ago (and so far has refused to seek treatment). Fear has paralyzed this young brother and he is just hoping it (the cancer) will go away, until there is a less painless cure. While his logic seems foolish, I can relate to him so much. I, too, was that brother, before I finally pushed myself to take aggressive measures to fight the disease.

In fact, I reminded the young brother, who has yet to reach the age of 40, he wants to nip the disease in the bud, before it spreads (if it has not already) and becomes more difficult to manage (or just untreatable). The world just isn't ready to lose another young, talented brother whose on a mission to conquer the world to cancer. My advice to the young brother is to fight like Stuart did and move beyond the fear of the disease. (I learned earlier this week that this young man took the steps to become cancer free. This had nothing to do with the text I sent him earlier. Yes, he's cancer free, too!)

Unfortunately, God doesn't prepare us to make such life altering decisions, especially when we're young. With that said, I am praying that he (and others) who are forced to encounter a storm that they too...can use Stuart as a model on how to weather it (or at least on how to embrace it). Young brothers in the cancer community really have never had such a high profile public spokesperson for the disease to be so candid.

I, along with many others, thank Stuart for allowing God to use his fourth quarter, pushing him to be so open and public about battling the disease, while living life on his terms (just as he did with his sports career). Stuart made it okay for brothers in the cancer community to publicly show their emotional side along with expressing their fear of cancer, while still being able to maintain a sense of coolness. Stuart has also given us permission to seek out a support group to help battle the disease. Yes, for that, I and others in the cancer community are forever grateful to this trailblazer!

About the editor

Within a two week span of finding out I was cancer free, Stuart had announced his cancer had returned for the third time. Stuart was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 42. I, like Stuart, was also diagnosed with the disease at the age of 42. 

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