Black Panther fans filled two movie theaters to watch the blockbuster film “Wakanda Forever” at Chicago’s ICON Theatre and learn about colorectal cancer (CRC) at a free event sponsored by the University of Illinois Cancer Center through its Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) and championed by Community Advisory Board Co-Chairs Candace Henley, CPN, and Joanne Glenn, RN, MBA.

The goals of the December 29 event were to honor actor Chadwick Boseman, who brought Black Panther to life and died of CRC in 2020 at age 43, and to bring awareness to community members about CRC and the importance of screening. The event was the idea of School of Public Health PhD candidate Nyahne Bergeron, MPH, a trainee for the Cancer Education and Career Development Program and CEHE graduate assistant.

The evening began with an introduction from CEHE Director Dedra Ries, MPH, explaining the purpose of the event, thanking attendees for their support, and recognizing staff for bringing the event together. Cancer Center member and UI Health gastroenterologist Keith Naylor, MD, followed as the evening’s emcee, telling the audiences about the importance and timing of CRC screening, and describing the different kinds of screening tests, including colonoscopy.

“It’s very important to have a discussion with your doctor about your own history, about your family history, and certainly about any symptoms you may be having to make sure you can undergo the best test at the best time,” said Naylor, who is part of the Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control research program.

Some of the 130 people who attended the event signed up after the film to pursue future CRC screening at UI Health Mile Square Health Center sites across the city.

Goodie bags handed out to attendees also promoted the upcoming colorectal cancer screening awareness campaign “March Screening Madness,” where Henley’s The Blue Hat Foundation, Inc., partners with the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and the Cancer Center. March is colorectal cancer awareness month.

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