For Deon Cole, the jokes stop at colorectal cancer. The comedian and black-ish star are partnering with Cottonelle and BLKHLTH to give a new meaning to downtherecare. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Cole is assisting in detailing the importance of getting screened early.
Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in America, however, Black Americans have a 40% higher death rate. When Colorectal Cancer is caught and treated, there is a 90% survival rate.
March 18th at 3:30 PT/6:30 ET, on where Cole, alongside Gastroenterologist, Dr. Fola May and BLKHLTH Co-Founder, Matthew McCurdy will talk “down there” to drive awareness for colorectal cancer realities within the Black community. The conversation can be seen on Cottonelle’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Ahead of that event, you can sign up for a free colorectal cancer screening kit here.
Before the roundtable discussion, Deon Cole spoke with The Source and stressed the importance of Colorectal Cancer screening and how it impacted a close friend.
Today you and I are discussing the importance of colorectal cancer. To my understanding, you have a friend that’s currently in treatment. How did he first learn of his diagnosis? And what have you seen so far in his treatment?
Deon Cole: I actually learned about it through other people. Other people started telling me about it and I was like, really? By the time he let it be known I really, really was fully aware of it. I reached out and kept reaching out, but he wasn’t able to use his phone. So I’m keeping tabs and check in as much as possible. It was a trip that situation. I had a sister who passed away, but she passed away from breast cancer. It’s just so sad, it’s a jarring situation, you know what I mean?
Hearing those situations and having those experiences, hearing about friends, seeing things that the family members go through. How did that reinforce or change your own belief about doctor visits?
I’ve always been the kind of person that’s like if the car ran out of gas. I’m going to get a gas can and walk to the gas station. If I incurred trouble, I’ll call AAA, but they’ll come and walk to the gas station. Whatever the problem is, I’m ready to go. So even health-wise, if I wake up and my neck is hurting, I have my doctors on speed dial. So I’m quick to handle whatever situation I need to handle at the time. I’d rather take care of it and get it fixed rather than ignore it.
What let you know Cottonelle was the right people to partner for this?
I knew that they had this program where you can talk to them about colorectal cancer. And it was something that was dear to me because, you know, my friend and I said let me reach out with them and see what we can do together with Black health and Cottonelle. We just all decided like this would be a good partnership in order to get the word out and let people know it’s easy to go get tested. Giving them access to free screenings and things of that nature. So it was important for me to also lay my comedic side to a situation that’s kind of rough for people to deal with. So I was like just letting people know that it’s not as hard as you think to go get tested.
Speaking of that creative creativity, do you find it well, comedic creativity? Do you find it hard to blend a little bit of humor in something that is so serious?
No, no, no. Anything that’s tragic or serious is material in the sense you got to understand even comedians, our lives come last. How many times I’ve been on stage miserable, making sure everybody else is happy, you know, and that’s just the life of a comedian. I’ve been in car wrecks and then right on stage smiling with my head hurting and I’m lightheaded but I want to make sure everybody’s happy. So it’s just in me to just make sure that everybody’s kind of cooled or whatever. And that’s the same thing with Cottonelle and Black health.
With African Americans, we have a 40% higher death rate with this over white Americans. White Americans are less likely to catch this and die. And I think that has a lot to do with systemic racism too, we don’t have that access to our neighborhoods as in the right healthcare and information. So I feel like if you can get the information that you need in order to screen yourself – there are free screenings out here that people can have. If more people know about it, then that’s what we want to do. You can go to cottonelle.com and the information is out there. You just got to know where to go look.
You mentioned that and I’m much like you, if I notice something is wrong with me or a car or anything else, I’m going to figure out what’s wrong before it gets too bad. But what we both know is in the black community, going to the doctor is really like a taboo conversation. What do you think that we can do in our communities to address the importance while also breaking down the barriers and the stigmas that come with going to the doctor?
See the thing about men, men don’t want to put nothing in nothing. They don’t want to spread nothing that to open that may time do none of that. So, therefore, this is something that they stay away from, but it’s like, nah, this is what you have to do be in order, if you want Jordans and you want to ride around a nice car, you want to be with your lady, you want to hang out, you have to do this in order to do all these other things you want to do. You can’t just, just do all this and not check yourself out. I don’t even know why I in taboo. It’s like, you have to do it. Like I got a kit, there are home test kits that you can use and you can go to Cottonelle and they’ll tell you all about it. So the information we provide is going to allow people to go, you know what, man, let me do this.
We’re going to shift gears a little bit. We’re in season seven of Blackish and for it to be an overall comedic show, you often give me that that that brings a tear to my eye and just full-on comedy. Popping up in the break room, anything, everything is funny. What do you love most about working on that show? Especially with the amount of talent that is on that roster?
Man working on Blackish is something that I couldn’t even imagine. You can’t even fathom the amount of love that we receive. And for us to believe in something before it even came out. We just were sitting back and hopefully people like this, you know, we had a sense that this was going to do something, but we didn’t know what matters. And so we are so grateful for everybody embracing us throughout the years. Coming together as families watching us. Generations and generations, grandparents to grandkids coming together to watch the show, you know? So it’s been amazing to just be on that ride man.
Will we get to see more of you in Grownish?
Yeah, actually I started shooting again next month. On Grown-ish the thing is, I was only supposed to be over there for like maybe a season and that was it. But the kids is like grown and out of school. Like there’s no reason for me to be a Dean over there no more. So, you know, it was cool. But I always have a fantastic time with my kids over there, man, with Yara [Shahidi] and Trevor [Noah] and the girls and Chloe and Hailey and everybody, man. So yeah, yeah, definitely going to do that.
Also. I want to tell people this too, man, we have a round table on the 18th of March. We have a big round table with Cottonelle and black health and we want everybody to come out. So it’s going to be at 3:30 Pacific time, 6:30 Eastern time. And we’re going to have a whole conversation about everything that everybody needs to know about. As far as Black health is concerned, we got dope doctors from UCLA and all over, man, that’s going to be that, but not all. But we got a few doctors that come through. They’re going to answer all your questions or anything you need to know, make sure y’all come check us out. March 18 on Cottonelle’s Facebook and YouTube channel.
I wanted to touch on that too. In that round table, you’ll be sitting with Dr. Fola May, gastroenterologist and health equity researcher. Is there anything that you’re most interested in specifically addressing during that time?
Well, I just want to make sure that how can we get these notifications in the clubs, you know, over the bathroom urinals, can we get some posters up there? Can we get some viral jokes going on? Can we make some videos? Let’s get together. So I want me and her to come together and be like, man, how can we really get this? Get some people out here knowing what’s going on because that’s what it’s about. It’s about education, about knowing.