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Cedric the Entertainer: When It Comes to Cancer Treatment, Your Voice Is Your Greatest Power

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by Cedric the Entertainer, for Stand Up To Cancer

Photo courtesy of Cedric the Entertainer

My mother, Rosetta, was an unstoppable force.

She was a force in the ’70s, as an educator and single mom raising two kids in Missouri. She was a force in 2009, when she was first diagnosed with uterine cancer. And though she is no longer with us, she continues to be a force in my life.

Despite the emotional roller coaster of caring for my mother during her treatment, and the crushing pain I felt when we lost her in 2015, I was endlessly inspired by her strength of spirit. In fact, the lessons my mother taught me through her resilience during cancer treatment may be some of the most valuable I’ve ever learned.

Three lessons from my mother’s experience, in particular, inform the man I am today:

First, you are your greatest advocate. Even though her doctors were busy, my mother made sure they knew her appointments were hers. She used that time to express her concerns and ask questions, always making sure her diagnosis and treatment plan were explained in a way that she could fully understand.

It may not always feel like it when you’re a patient, but you know your body better than anyone. There are many paths you can take when it comes to taking control of your health. Treatment options have evolved exponentially over the past several years and there are more promising possibilities than ever before. All of these possibilities can be overwhelming, but doing your research, advocating for yourself and enlisting loved ones to help you can completely change the course of your cancer journey and provide a sense of power throughout the process.

Secondly, your community needs your voice. Comedy has been a gift to me. It’s my career, purpose and passion — but most importantly, it’s given me a platform. Recently, I’ve used that platform to raise awareness within the Black community about clinical trials.

Photo credit: Jeff Katz for Stand Up To Cancer

It’s no secret that our healthcare system has been failing Black patients for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this to the forefront, as the virus is disproportionately impacting people of color, who are often less likely to be insured, more likely to have existing health conditions and may experience barriers that impede access to care. These barriers exist in all areas of medicine, including cancer care. Due to lack of information and access, participation in cancer clinical trials is extremely low in the Black community. I am using my voice to raise awareness about clinical trials because I want my community to benefit from the latest innovations in cancer research, so that we can have a future with more Black cancer survivors.

Some people remain a part of the community they were born into, while others find their communities along their life path. Wherever your community may be, I hope it serves as a support system, as a resource, and most importantly, as a reminder that you are not alone. I am so grateful for the friends, doctors and nurses who supported my family throughout my mother’s treatment. Because of their support, we were inspired to give back to that community and make sure generations to come would also receive the same level of care.

This brings me to my third, and perhaps greatest lesson:

The legacy you leave matters. In an emotional ceremony in October 2016, my sister Sharita and I unveiled The Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women’s Pavilion at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis. We were fortunate to be able to honor our mother and the incredible care she received while at St. Mary’s, and I’m proud that her legacy lives on in a place that brings comfort and support to those who walk through its doors.

A legacy can exist in many forms. As a single mom in St. Louis, my mother lived a life of service—to her students, to her church and to those around her. Your legacy is defined by the good you do with the life you’re given. When I’m gone, many will remember me for my comedy, but I hope I’m also remembered as my mother was — as an unstoppable force for good.

Cedric the Entertainer is a veteran comedian, actor, writer and producer, and has been a Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Ambassador since 2018. His acting and producing credits include CBS’ The Neighborhood, Cedric the Entertainer Presents and The Last O.G.

Stand Up To Cancer raises funds and awareness supporting innovative research programs in cancer prevention, detection and to bring new effective treatments to patients faster. In January 2020, Stand Up To Cancer announced its Health Equity Initiative, which aims to increase diverse participation in cancer clinical trials.

To learn more, visit

Originally published: July 29, 2020
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