Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer 4 years ago. The actor never spoke publicly about his illness and made numerous movies while fighting it. On Friday, however, Boseman lost the battle.

As tragic as his death is, it also serves as a reminder to never mock someone’s weight. You see, months earlier, Boseman posted a video to Instagram where he spoke about Operation 42, an initiative that aims to help hospitals serving African-American communities during the pandemic. In it, he appeared way, way thinner than most people were used to him being. And they noticed.

On Friday, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer

Image credits: chadwickboseman

Some commenters were generally concerned, asking: “Are you ok?” but others — not so much. They made hurtful jokes and even started uploading memes, all of which were mocking the dramatic transformation Boseman had been going through.

After his family released a statement about the actor’s death, his fan Haley Ruth Spencer, an English and theatre major from Tulare, California, made a Facebook post, highlighting just how ignorant these remarks were.

The actor never spoke publicly about his illness and had continued making movies even after the diagnosis

Image credits: Marvel

However, one of his fans reminded everyone about a video Boseman posted a couple of months ago, most importantly, people’s reactions to it

Image credits: Haley Ruth Spencer

“I’m a big fan of Chadwick Boseman. Black Panther is one of my very favorite superheroes, and seeing the movie for my 20th birthday is a very special memory,” Spencer told Bored Panda. “He seems like he was just a really solid, humble, kind-hearted spirit. Just a rare example of a truly talented yet good person.”

Spencer said she discovered the jokes on Twitter, and even though she loves that app, its users are also deeply unkind on it sometimes. “I remember people were rationalizing their body-shaming by saying he had lost the weight for a role, but I still was uncomfortable and annoyed by them. I thought they were rude at the time, and now knowing the severity of his condition, I think they’re absolutely cruel.”

“I think the only time it might be appropriate to approach someone about a drastic change in their weight is when you are personally and closely acquainted with them. And even then, it’s my personal opinion that you shouldn’t bring up their appearance and just gently take them aside and ask how they’re doing in general.”

Spencer added that she never expected that post to be seen by anyone except a few of her Facebook friends, and that it’s been stunning to see how it has struck a chord with so many people. “I think it’s not at all about me. What I wrote isn’t special, Chadwick was. People loved him and are mourning him and seem to be taking this chance to better themselves and those around them by trying to raise awareness about the cruel comments he endured.”

Many of which seem so wrong now

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) states that weight loss is common among people with cancer, and it may even be the first visible sign of the disease. “40% of people say they had unexplained weight loss when they were first diagnosed with cancer. Weight loss associated with cancer may be different than other types of weight loss. Doctors refer to a weight loss syndrome called ‘cachexia,’ which is characterized by increased metabolism, loss of skeletal muscle, fatigue, loss of appetite, and decreased quality of life. Cachexia is very common in patients with incurable cancer,” ASCO wrote on its website, adding that up to 80% of people with advanced cancer have cachexia.

Here’s what others have been saying about the issue

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