HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The world was shocked by the death of Chadwick Boseman due to colon cancer at the age of 43 on Friday night. The actor portrayed black icons like Jackie Robinson and James Brown before becoming the first to bring to life the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther.
The impact of Boseman’s legacy is felt heavily by a local colon cancer survivor and Marvel fanatic, John Wells. Wells owns Odd Balls Collectibles in Henrico and sells all kinds of memorabilia, including multitudes of Marvel and DC figurines and comics.
Wells says his superhero will not be forgotten.
He received his colon cancer diagnosis three years ago after his colon perforated and his body developed sepsis.
“They put me into a medically-induced coma and I woke up four days later finding out I had colon cancer,” Wells said. “At the age of 45 you don’t expect that.”
Boseman’s death hit Wells hard and brought memories of his battle with the disease back to the front of his mind.
“There’s many nights when you’re by yourself and the thoughts are going through your head and you know that death is close by,” Wells said. “You don’t know if you’re going to be one of the lucky ones to pass through.”
Wells said that people don’t always see the personal side of cancer. Boseman’s four-year struggle with colon cancer had not been made known to the public ahead of his passing.
Coming to terms with a superhero’s mortality has been difficult for Wells, as it reminds him that they’re human and they battle with cancer too. “They’re people like the rest of us,” Wells said.
He has taken an oath to never give up in his battle with colon cancer.
“If you are a survivor I believe that it is your responsibility to tell the next person diagnosed with cancer that I survived and you can survive, too,” Wells said. “But you’ve gotta fight.”
Wells went through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries during his fight and currently shows no evidence of the disease. But he says in many cases the colon cancer is hidden and it can spread before the disease ever shows itself.
He encourages everyone to get a colonoscopy to catch any signs of developing the disease as early as possible.
If his cancer were to return, Wells said his family would be his motivation to fight and survive and he will always keep Boseman’s fight in his heart.
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