Retired NBA Great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Reveals Diagnosis of Rare Form of Cancer

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Vibe | November 11, 2009 - 12:28 pm

Retired NBA great, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, revealed this week that he’s been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and is currently being treated.

The 62-year-old Hall of Famer announced that he was diagnosed last December with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), but says doctors say he has a “very good” chance of living out the rest of his life without drastic changes.

He is currently taking oral medication to help treat the disease.

Aside from visiting his doctor on a regular basis, Abdul-Jabbar tells CNN that he’s going public now to educate people about this disease.

“I think it’s possible for someone in my position to help save lives,” he told the news organization.

Abdul-Jabbar said that cancer has been prominent in his life, with several family members succumbing to the disease.

“My grandfather died from colorectal cancer, my uncle died from colorectal cancer and my father almost died from colorectal cancer,” he said.

While researching CML, Abdul-Jabbar learned that some cancer patients do not regularly take their cancer medication. Finding this out, he approached the pharmaceutical company Novartis about launching an educational campaign.

He is now being paid by the company for his travel and time to help raise awareness, but the idea for the campaign was his.

“The message is simple: You have to have the expert advice of a specialist. You have to take your medicine and get your blood analyzed,” he said.

Abdul-Jabbar is best known as the 7-foot-2 center great tha led the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships, and also one other prior with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971

He retired from the NBA in 1989.

Photo Credit: Getty Images