James Brown’s family reflect on Chadwick Boseman’s life, now more aware of cancer in young men

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As the country remembers Chadwick Boseman, Augusta does too. His death to colon cancer highlights the rise in young men some doctors are seeing and questions who is most at risk.

Before we knew him as Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman brought Augusta’s own James Brown to life in the Hollywood Blockbuster Get On Up.

The Brown family shared that experience with NewsChannel 6 along with a new awareness of the cancer that claimed his life.

“The epitome of black excellence.”

That’s how Deanna Brown Thomas, daughter of James Brown and James Brown Family Foundation President described the actor and Anderson, South Carolina native.

It was nothing but fond memories about the man who brought her father to the big screen.

“He really listened because it was things that we told him about dad like his ways that he did things, his nuances, mannerisms and Chad picked those up,” she said.

Boseman’s research of his role as James Brown came under the advisement of Brown’s daughter who acted as a consultant on the film and he even shared the screen with his real life grandson Jason Brown.

“He came to Augusta in 2013,” Brown Thomas recalled. “It was September of 2013 and it was the same weekend as Arts in the Heart of Augusta. The students of James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils, JAMP was performing. He had an opportunity to see the kids perform. He was blown away by that completely.”

Grandson of James Brown, Jason Brown, shared kind words too, noting that he shared some personal conversations with Boseman while shooting Get On Up.

Jason Brown, grandson of James Brown and Chadwick Boseman

“Chad was very grounded as a person. Even though I was working on a Hollywood movie, he felt to be far from Hollywood. He felt to be a real and private person,” he said adding that as lead character, Boseman often was the first up and the last to leave while filming.

Jason said the experience with Boseman playing his grandfather was surreal.

The Brown family took Boseman to James Brown’s old stomping grounds during that 2013 visit, including Brown’s old school Silas X. Floyd and his home on Walton Way, something both Deanna and Jason said helped him perfect his role as the Godfather of Soul.

And not only will Brown and Boseman be forever tied through film, Brown Thomas told us she is also working on a Chadwick Boseman scholarship for a future JAMP.

But his death to colon cancer at age 43 opens up a new conversation about young men and how they can get cancer. National Cancer Institute reports nearly 148,000 new cases of colon and rectum cancers this year, but deaths have been declining since the 90s. That’s because American Cancer Society learned people born around 1990 have double the risk, according to this Men’s Health article.

“I am 30 and from my understanding I thought that every colonoscopy was done at 50 and it was something you do at midlife and most men do,” Jason Brown explained. “However, at 43 him passing, it’s like wow, we have to get this done at maybe 35 or 40.”

New guidelines from the American Cancer Society say men and women at risk for colorectal cancer should be screened by age 45. Cancer.org reports that many deaths from rectal cancer are misclassified as colon cancer on death certificates.

The organization also notes that young people have increasing incidents.

Symptoms include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits or stool shape (e.g., narrower than usual), the feeling that the bowel is not completely empty, abdominal cramping or pain, decreased appetite, and weight loss. In some cases, the cancer causes blood loss that leads to anemia (low number of red blood cells), resulting in symptoms such as weakness and fatigue.

Cancer.org

Those risk factors include family history, excess body weight, physical inactivity, long-term smoking, high consumption of red or processed meat, low calcium intake, heavy alcohol consumption, and very low intake of fruits and vegetables and whole-grain fiber.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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