Diabetes is no laughing matter for Cedric the Entertainer. The actor and comedian recently joined forces with Pfizer and the American Diabetes Association for a new initiative called Step On Up to raise awareness about diabetic nerve pain. African Americans in particular, he points out, are 70% more likely to be diagnosed with Type II diabetes than other races.
“With my dad, who has type-2 diabetes, it was something that we noticed back in 2010 where he was slowing down and coming up with excuses of doing the things he likes to do,” Cedric told the the Huffington Post. “We didn’t know this pain was directly related to his diabetes. And so we just kind of figured that this is common within the African-American community that people have these other symptoms. And so I just found this as a great opportunity to partner up and be able to spread this message.”
Through his advocacy, the Soul Man star hopes to dispell some of the myths surrounding diabetes, like fear of lower-leg amputations, which keep folks from getting the treatment they need. “Most people are really afraid of the amputations,” he says. "They assume that further checks will lead to the amputation of a leg or something. Being ahead of it is more important."
Young people aren't exempt from educating themselves about diabetes, he says. "People think that they’re too young for it." HuffPo points to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2011 study, which says that 16% of people living with diabetes were diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 39-years-old.
Preventative medicine and other health-related issues seem to have become especially important to Cedric after losing his mother Rosetta Boyce last week to a lengthy battle with cancer. The comedian says he is raising funds to open the Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women's Pavillion in St. Louis, named in honor of his late mother, with a gala in the fall.
“I’m going to do a big gala here to raise money and partner with a lot of great businesses here in St. Louis. ... October 10 I’m going to bring in a special musical act, and bring a couple of my other friends, be it Steve [Harvey], D.L. [Hughley] or George Lopez (he's currently touring with Lopez in the Black and Brown Comedy Get Down) to come in and perform to try to raise a lot of money to get this pavilion opened,” he said.
Looks like Cedric is picking up where the late, great B.B. King left off in terms of educating the public about diabetes, which is both preventable and highly treatable. Click here to learn more about Step On Up.
Watch Cedric the Entertainer and Queen Latifah talk diabetes in the video below.
(Photo: Earl Gibson III/WireImage)