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Basketball Legend is Battling Leukemia—and Winning

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently revealed that he has been battling a rare form of leukemia for nearly a year. The 62-year-old former center for the Los Angeles Lakers is suffering from chronic myelogenous (or myeloid) leukemia (CML), a cancer that starts inside bone marrow and grows from cells that produce white blood cells.

The term “chronic” implies a relatively slow-growing cancer that could take years to progress. During this phase, the disease may reveal few or no symptoms. Most people, Abul-Jabbar included, who have this particular strain of leukemia are diagnosed after having blood drawn for other reasons. Unlike the accelerated (or “acute”) phase that spreads quickly, the chronic form of the disease is easily treated with a high rate of remission.

Abul-Jabbar has lived a deliberately private life since his retirement in 1989, quietly authoring seven books, directing a documentary, and serving as an assistant coach for the Lakers. However, his decision to go public was also calculated, with the hope that his high profile will bring attention to the disease and hope to others who are suffering from it. As an advocate for CML, Adbul-Jabbar wants to reveal that, by seeing a doctor and taking the proper medications, the condition can be managed and those suffering from it can live a meaningful life.

Find out more about CML by visiting our CML learning center.
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