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Craig Melvin's brother Lawrence dies from colon cancer at age 43

The husband and father of two was first diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2016.
/ Source: TODAY

Craig Melvin's older brother, Lawrence Meadows, has died at 43 from colon cancer.

On Saturday, Craig shared the heartbreaking news on Instagram.

"We lost our older brother this week. Lawrence Meadows was a husband (to Angela, his childhood sweetheart), father (to Addie, 11 and Lawson, 7) Baptist minister, entrepreneur, and one of the best human beings you would’ve ever known," he wrote in the caption. "Colon cancer robbed him and us of so much."

Meadows, who was first diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at 39 years old in 2016, died on Wednesday morning, according to the family. He was a Baptist minister, funeral home director, husband to his childhood sweetheart, Angela, and father to Addie, 11, and Lawson, 7.

"He spent a fair amount of time over the past few years raising awareness about the disease," Craig added in his caption. "We’ll be keeping up that fight. We love you, bro."

Craig, 41, first shared the news about his brother's diagnosis in 2017 on TODAY, noting that doctors removed a baseball-sized tumor from his abdomen in October 2016 and discovered that the cancer had already spread.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the country, excluding skin cancers, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Scott Kopetz, an oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas who treated Meadows, said on TODAY in 2017 that African Americans are twice as likely develop early onset colon cancer as white people.

The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45, down from a previous recommendation of 50, as doctors search to determine a reason for an alarming spike in cases of colon cancer in younger Americans.

Craig gave an update on Meadows in 2018, calling him "a fighter" and sharing that his brother had undergone 28 chemotherapy treatments in Houston, a thousand miles away from his home in South Carolina.

"I think a lot of times when people hear 'cancer,' they think, 'Oh gosh, well I've done everything I want to do, let me just go ahead and succumb to this, but no, there's not a part of a fiber in me that says throw in the towel or give up because that's not a part of my DNA," Meadows said on TODAY in 2018.

Meadows also spent time speaking to groups at health fairs and conferences about colon cancer and the importance of getting screened and tested.

Craig also spoke about the importance of getting screened during Men's Health Week in June, stressing not to avoid the tests because of fears of going to the doctor during the pandemic.

"It doesn't take a whole lot to talk someone out of going for a colonoscopy in the first place," he said. "What we don't want is to give people a new reason or a new excuse to not get that colonoscopy."

He suggested for men to talk with friends about topics like family history of colorectal cancer.

"People don't know. We didn't know that we had a family history until my brother got diagnosed, and we started asking questions," he said. "All of a sudden it was like 'Oh, yeah, your grandma did have colon cancer.' It didn't kill her, but all of a sudden my father remembered ... All of a sudden, you become aware of your family history."

The dangers of colon cancer, particularly in the Black community, were highlighted this summer with the tragic death of actor Chadwick Boseman, who died at 43 in August from the disease.

In memory of his brother, Craig and his family have requested that any donations be made to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.