Chadwick Boseman Kept His Cancer Battle a Secret in Part Because of His Mother

Chadwick Boseman’s death following a four-year battle with colon cancer came as a shock to not only his fans but many of his costars. Now, those who knew the actor best are reflecting on the months before he succumbed to the illness.

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The Black Panther star’s agent Michael Greene noted that his mother, Carolyn, contributed to his decision to only share the details of his fight with a few close friends. “[She] always taught him not to have people fuss over him,” Greene explained to The Hollywood Reporter in a Wednesday, September 2, article. “He also felt in this business that people trip out about things, and he was a very, very private person.”

Trainer Addison Henderson helped Boseman prepare for his Marvel roles amid the disease. “I used to tell Chad, ‘Man, you remind me of my dad,’” he recalled, referring to his father who beat cancer on four occasions. “’You guys are fighters, and you never stop moving forward.’ For us, it was just like, ‘Let’s keep going, let’s keep doing what you want to do, let’s keep training.’ And then, me and [producing partner] Logan [Coles] and his family, his wife [Taylor Simone Ledward], we were always just here to support him.”

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Chadwick Boseman Kept Cancer Battle Secret Part Because His Mother
Chadwick Boseman. Shutterstock

Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president of Howard University, the 42 actor’s alma mater, pointed out how he deflected a question about his weight loss when they had dinner in 2019. “In his usual style, he gave a long, detailed answer, explaining that he was a vegetarian and was exercising and trying to take care of himself and do what he had to do,” he said. “It was a very thoughtful response, never letting on that anything else was happening.”

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As the cancer progressed, Greene said Boseman “was really in hard-core pain” while filming Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but the idea of working with Denzel Washington “to launch this cycle of [playwright] August Wilson at Netflix was so exciting to him.”

The Marshall star’s publicist confirmed to Us Weekly on Friday, August 28, that he died at his home with his wife and family by his side. He was 43.

“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV,” a statement read. “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

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