Home » Comedian D.L. Hughley brings awareness to rising multiple myeloma rates in Black communities

Comedian D.L. Hughley brings awareness to rising multiple myeloma rates in Black communities

by The Grio

D.L. Hughley performs at The Stress Factory Comedy Club on January 21, 2022 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Initially, when comedian and radio host D.L. Hughley’s elderly neighbors in South Los Angeles grumbled about chronic back pain and fatigue, he thought nothing of it. Older Black folks kept their health information private, and Hughley dare not ask for fear of getting into “grown folk business.” 

Over time, word spread that multiple myeloma — a silent, but deadly blood cancer shared by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and jazz legend Howard Tate at the time of their deaths — was popping up as the culprit; first three people then five then seven. 

Hughley’s first thought was “what’s causing this?” and his second was “how do we prevent this?” — a sobering reminder that this trend would continue if nothing was done about it. 

March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month, and advocates, survivors and even celebrities like Hughley are lending their voices to the cause. And it couldn’t come at a better time. 

The impact of multiple myeloma on Black communities is staggering. According to the International Myeloma Foundation, Black people will make up nearly a quarter (24%) of all newly diagnosed cases by 2034 if nothing is done — an astonishing rate given that Black Americans make up only 13% of the population (currently, Black people are 20% of all myeloma cases). Black Americans are also twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of multiple myeloma compared to white Americans; and while Black people, on average, receive earlier diagnosis compared to white people, the cancer is often found in its more advanced stage, when the disease is more aggressive and harder to treat. 

These disparities exist, in part,…

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