CINCINNATI — Timothy Mitchell knew something wasn’t quite right when he started feeling lethargic.
Mitchell was 43 years old when he was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer.
“I felt like I didn't want this to be true. I was in denial,” Mitchell said.
It’s the same disease “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman fought for four years. Boseman died on Friday at 43 years old.
Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer, and African Americans have the highest rates of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Those rates are just about 10% higher for Black men than white men.
Dr. Olugbenga Olowokure, a UC Health oncologist, said it can be difficult to detect the disease in someone younger than 45 years old, which is when screenings are recommended.
“If he didn't have any personal family history, he wouldn't be a person we would pick up,” Olowokure said.
Olowokure said people should be cognizant of their bodies and contact their doctor immediately if they experience a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or unintended weight loss.
People should also get screened younger than 45 if they have family history, Olowokure said.
For Mitchell, paying attention to his symptoms was imperative.
“Early detection is key. Not paying attention to your body and not taking care of your body, it could really end sooner than you wanted it to,” Mitchell said.