Dr. Ibram X. Kendi discusses colorectal cancer diagnosis, importance of screening

Written by on October 25, 2021

As part of WURD Radio’s Go to Know campaign, award-winning author and professor Dr. Ibram X. Kendi joins Nick Taliaferro for a conversation about his life, fight and recovery from stage IV colon cancer.

Dr. Kendi, a Temple University graduate, has written three books: “Stamped from the Beginning,” “How to Be An Antiracist” and “400 Souls.” He is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant and the W.E.B. DuBois Book Prize and is the Andrew W. Mellon professor in the humanities at Boston University. But all these accolades and accomplishments did not prepare him for the gut-wrenching diagnosis that changed his life.

 

At age 35, Dr. Kendi was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. African Americans have the highest rates of colorectal cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.

“I was just angry at myself for not getting checked out earlier, for not taking this seriously,” he said.

For Dr. Kendi, the signs were there — weight loss, fatigue and frequent urination — but fear and the misconception that eating right and exercising signified a healthy body kept him from addressing those physical signs. Busy living, he shrugged off his ailing condition as temporary discomforts that could be resolved when he had more time. That was until he began having stomach discomfort and bleeding from the rectum.

Dr. Kendi and his wife, who is a physician, reached out for help but were told a doctor could not see him for five months. His condition worsened to the point his wife insisted a doctor see him immediately.

When he was examined, doctors found several tumors in his colon, one so large it almost clogged the cavity. Dr. Kendi endured months of chemotherapy and surgery and is now cancer free.

 

He said he was so angry at himself for not listening to his body that he now does the “uncomfortable things” to take care of his health, like taking time off from work to visit the doctor. 

Take charge of your health with a free, at-home colorectal screening with our Go to Know campaign in partnership with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Penn Medicine and Labcorp. To get your free, at-home FIT kit to complete a colorectal screening in the privacy of your bathroom, visit wurd.getscreened.org or call 1-877-422-2030.

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