Health + Wellness

Black History of Health: Kareem Abdul-Jabar

kareem abdul-jabar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has built a career of being a dominating force in the NBA. The basketball legend has taken on some of the most aggressive players on the court. One opponent he didn’t think he would ever have to face was cancer. 

In 2009, it was announced that the legend was being treated for a rare form of leukemia. 

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer was diagnosed the prior year with chronic myeloid leukemia. The then 62-year-old Abdul-Jabbar said he was given a promising prognosis, which clearly met the mark as he beat the illness for more than a decade until he announced last year that he had prostate cancer.

Fortunately, the NBA Cares ambassador revealed that he was a two-time cancer survivor and aimed to educate more people on the illnesses. Although both forms of cancer deserve attention, his rare type of Leukemia has left many daunted. 

RELATED: 5 Lifestyle Tips For Living With Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)

What is chronic myeloid leukemia?

The American Cancer Society says that cancer starts when cells in the body start to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other parts of the body. 

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia. It’s a type of cancer that starts in certain blood-forming cells of the bone marrow.

The American Cancer Society explains that in CML, a genetic change takes place in an early (immature) version of myeloid cells — the cells that make red blood cells, platelets, and most types of white blood cells (except lymphocytes).

This change forms an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL, which turns the cell into a CML cell. The leukemia cells grow and divide, building up in the 

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