NBA Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar revealed Tuesday morning the he battling a rare form of leukemia.
Abdul-Jabbar, who was diagnosed last December with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, is going public now to spread the message of treatment and show that it's a disease that doesn't need to be fatal:
"I have chronic myeloid leukemia," Abdul-Jabbar told CNN. "I think it's possible for someone in my position to help save lives.
Abdul-Jabbar, long an involved member in the community, has bee active in raising cancer awareness in the African-American community after dealing with a family history of colorectal cancer, for which he has the gene, he says.
He told CNN his specialist said the cancer diagnosis did not have to be a death sentence, as long as he followed a proper treatment regimen. Abdul-Jabbar wouldn't reveal his prognosis, but he did say he is managing his disease and that having CML "doesn't impact my life too significantly."
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the average person's chance of getting CML is less than 1 in 500. The cancer society says CML is slightly more common in men than women, and it accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of all leukemias or blood cancers.
The ACS estimates just over 5,000 people will be diagnosed with CML this year, and that 470 will die from it. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society estimates the five-year survival rate for CML of 44.4 percent.
Aside from basketball greatness, Abdul-Jabbar also played the pivotal role of pilot Roger Murdoch in "Airplane."