It comes in a bewildering variety. Abdul-Jabbar mentioned that a close friend, actor Bruno Kirby, died in 2006 of leukemia. When Kareem heard his doctor say he had leukemia, he understandably thought he didn’t have long for this world. But Kirby’s leukemia laughed at the best treatment while Abdul-Jabbar’s is usually treatable relatively easily with a drug made by Novartis, a company that is one of the hall-of-famer’s sponsors. That actually is lucky, because from what I read, the medicine can run more than $30,000 a year.
This is something else I hope he uses his pulpit to talk about. If you have health insurance — or a sponsor who makes the medication — you don’t have to worry about paying for the medication that will keep you alive and living a mostly normal life. If you don’t have insurance, and also have lost your job or are underemployed, well, you do the math. Nobody’s going to give you that medicine.
So it would be nice if he’d also throw an elbow in the ribs of a few members of Congress and tell them to make health care affordable and mandatory for everyone, and not just those lucky enough to have a job that offers access to insurance. Because it doesn’t matter how young or how healthy or how careful you are, cancer can find you, and if you can’t pay for treatment, you’re dead.
And a mere $30,000 a year is relative peanuts compared to what it costs to treat other cancers. I’ve been undergoing treatment for lymphoma for the past five months and will continue in treatment until April. I’ve had seven shots that cost nearly $25,000 total. I had one prescription for two weeks of medication that ran $20,000. Soon, I’ll be going into the hospital for three weeks of treatment at a cost that I’m guessing will run a couple hundred thousand dollars. My prognosis is good, but there are no guarantees.
Kareem provided you with countless thrills during his great college and pro careers. Now’s your chance to pay him back.
Donate something to fight cancer. It doesn’t have to be a lot. And if you can’t afford a donation, go to your local hospital or blood bank and donate blood. We need that, too. But do something, because the life you save may be your own.
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