When you think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, you think of the dominant center for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, the six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer and the league’s All-Time Leading Scorer.
He is also an author, historian and actor.
Now you can add survivor and advocate to the list.
Abdul-Jabbar, who was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in 2008, is working to inspire and encourage fellow patients with Ph+ CML to work closely with their doctors and take action to actively manage the blood leukemia.
Sept. 22 has been declared CML Awareness Day in the United States to help raise awareness of the disease and call attention to advancements made in the treatment of the disease.
CML is a disease in which the body produces cancerous white blood cells and is responsible for 10 to 15 percent of all adult cases of leukemia. Over the last decade, significant advances in the understanding of this disease have led to improved patient outcomes. As a result, CML is now a disease that may be managed in many patients for a long time by working with a doctor to develop the best possible treatment plan. In 2011 alone, there were about 5,150 newly diagnosed cases of this disease in the U.S.
Abdul-Jabbar, the National CML Society and Novartis Oncology will host a free webcast event Friday to provide CML patients and caregivers the opportunity to learn from and question experts on a variety of topics related to living with the disease.
"I heard the world 'leukemia,' and I thought this was definitely a death sentence." Abdul-Jabbar told ABC News when he went public with the news of his diagnosis, but he noted that his prognosis was good, and that "If I can do this as I'm told to do it, I can manage this."
Now, he told “Patient Power” in a telephone interview last week that he agreed to become a patient advocate to help others, and “pay it forward.”
“Knowledge is power,” Abdul-Jabbar said, adding that patients who better understand disease management can “prolong and better your life.”
Abdul-Jabbar and Greg Stephens, founder and executive director of the National CML Society, will be available during the webcast to discuss living with CML, including the active role patients can take in managing their disease and the importance of connecting with others.
And you can also add honoree to the long list of accolades for Abdul-Jabbar.
On Nov. 16, the Lakers will unveil a statue of Abdul-Jabbar outside the STAPLES Center, joining those of former Lakers Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Jerry West, former Kings hockey great Wayne Gretzky, boxer Oscar De La Hoya and former Lakers broadcaster Francis “Chick” Hearn.