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Chadwick Boseman's wife warns about colon cancer while accepting award for him

"This disease is beatable if you catch it in its early stages," Simone Ledward Boseman said.
/ Source: TODAY

Simone Ledward Boseman, the wife of the late actor Chadwick Boseman, issued an impassioned plea for people to get screened for colon cancer as she accepted an award on behalf of her husband.

Boseman, who died last August at the age of 43 after a private battle with the disease, was honored with the NAACP Image Award for outstanding actor in a motion picture for his performance in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

"He was an uncommon artist and an even more uncommon person," Ledward Boseman said. "But the manner in which we lost him is not uncommon at all. Not in our community."

Ledward Boseman, who wiped away tears as she spoke of her late husband, said she hopes people will take charge of their health, get screened and know the warning signs. Her call to action was especially timely, since March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

"Black people in this country are 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer and 40 percent more likely to die from it," she said of the disease that disproportionately affects the Black community. "The age for routine screening has recently been lowered to 45 so if you are 45 years of age or older, please get screened. Don’t put it off any longer, please get screened."

Early detection is key to beating the disease, she added.

"This disease is beatable if you catch it in its early stages, so you don’t have any time to waste even if you have no family history and even if you think nothing is wrong. And if you are younger than 45, please be proactive about your health. Know the signs, know the science, listen to your body. If you need more information and for a full list of colon cancer symptoms you can visit," Ledward Boseman said. "Please, you are so needed and you are so loved. Please take your health into your own hands. Thank you."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in American men and women combined.

Some of the most common symptoms of colon cancer include unintended weight loss, weakness and fatigue, blood in the stool and abdominal pain and cramping. The disease is beatable in 90 percent of cases that are detected early, according to Stand Up to Cancer.

Ledward Boseman, who was photographed with Boseman throughout their five year relationship, wed the "Black Panther" star months before his death. She's now carrying on his legacy.

Earlier this month, she gave an emotional speech accepting the Golden Globe for best actor in a motion picture drama on behalf of her late husband. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for best actor and is a favorite of critics to win the elite honor at the ceremony on April 25.