Nat “King” Cole was indeed a royal figure in American popular music during the golden age of jazz.
The classic jazz pianist, composer, and singer had the world at his fingertips from earning notoriety for his smooth, silky voice.
He was also the first African American artist to host his own television program, solidifying his place in the hearts and minds of Americans that cut across racial lines. He was also a staunch civil rights figure and worked alongside other icons of the movement like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harry Belafonte. He was a king.
That’s why the world seemed to come to a halt when his death was announced in 1965 three weeks after he underwent surgery to remove a collapsed cancerous lung. He was 45.
At the time, not much was known about lung cancer, leaving everyone shocked that the procedure didn’t ultimately save his life. Now, we’ve learned more about the illness and its origin.
Lung Cancer in the Black Community
Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs, which is a spongy organ that receives oxygen and expels poisonous carbon dioxide. It’s widely known that people who smoke have the greatest risk of lung cancer, though it can also occur in people who have never smoked.
The risk of lung cancer increases the more and longer you’ve smoked. If you quit, even after smoking for many years, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.
The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) estimates for lung cancer in the United States for 2021 are: