Chadwick Boseman’s Wife Reflects on Keeping His Cancer a Secret

Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther
By Richard Nebens Posted:

Chadwick Boseman's death in 2020 came as an intense shock for the MCU fandom, as did the reveal that he secretly battled cancer during his entire time with Marvel Studios, but it hit no one harder than the actor's wife.

As fans look forward to the upcoming release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in November, the moment is quite bittersweet with Boseman's memory at the forefront of everybody's minds. With the Black Panther actor's cancer battle being a complete surprise to both fans and the studio, his death became even more heartbreaking as those watching saw his dedication to his craft.

While Black Panther was far from his only role, Boseman's brother celebrated the way he "honored all the contracts that he signed" before his death, putting his heart and soul into the MCU's T'Challa. And even though his role won't be recast for the time being within the MCU, Boseman's efforts as T'Challa and the Black Panther will never be forgotten, especially with his presence in Black Panther 2.

Now, with only a couple of weeks remaining until the sequel releases, Boseman's widow took an opportunity to look back on the challenges her late husband tackled with his cancer fight.

Boseman's Wife on MCU Star's Cancer Struggles

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Marvel

ABC News spoke with Simone Ledward Boseman, the late Chadwick Boseman's widow, about his private battle with cancer before his death in August 2020.

She revealed that the battle "really started to spiral" once the pandemic became a reality, although she also saw it as a "crazy coincidence" that it came with that timing. With his illness progressively getting worse and with there being more risk of contracting COVID during that time, she noted that their inner circle was kept as small as possible:

Goldberg: “When you decided not to share, what was happening? Were you scared somebody was gonna dig and find out that he was much iller than people thought?”

Boseman: “It was COVID when things really started to spiral. And that meant that everybody was in their house, and there was no pressure for anybody to go outside, or go to a meeting, or be seen… As much as that [was] just such an awful time in the world, it seemed like, ‘Is this a crazy coincidence that we get to actually be inside? We get to be here with family… together.’ And everybody in the world is also experiencing this togetherness in the midst of this awful, scary, unpredictable time, so it really reduced, I think, that risk of — you have to be out, you have to go do thi … It reduced that for us… We kept that circle real… our circle was basically a dot.”

Later in the conversation, she turned the focus to her love for her late husband, heaping praise upon him for being "caring" and "genuine," along with other heartfelt adjectives:

“He was just the smartest, most caring, most genuine, most just real, authentic, truth in everything — like nobody that I had ever met.”

She explained how lucky she felt that she "got to love this person" and get that same love back in return, praising Boseman as "an artist" even more than an actor:

“I can’t believe that I was so lucky. I can’t believe that I got to love this person and I also got them to love me, too. Sure, he was an actor and that was — there was a lot of fun stuff that we got to do. But he was an artist.”

Although she notes how painful it was to have lost him, she takes solace in having "this beautiful spirit relationship with him," making it clear that he'll always be with her for the rest of her own life:

“He was an artist, and he was a leader and he was a king. And that I got to be by his side for that — that he chose me to be by his side for that is just, it’s the greatest blessing. Even with the pain of his loss, now I still get to have this beautiful spirit relationship with him. And that, while it’s difficult to accept, is also beautiful because he’s an ancestor now. He is and he is never leaving me.”

The Bosemans were together for about two years before Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, which progressed to stage IV before his death.

Because he had such a "very, very trusted circle of people" there to support him through that fight and push forward the best that they could:

“There was always some level of concern. But we really do have a very, very trusted circle of people that were there to support him, and support me, and help us, you know, do the best that we could with the challenging time."

Mrs. Boseman looked back on the times when "[Chadwick] didn't have someone that could give him the answers," with both of them realizing that the process was about learning who did have the answers to those mysteries:

“I think that like any human person, we all have fear, we all have doubt — we want to know that we’re doing the right thing. And I think that there were a lot of times for him where he felt like he didn’t have someone that could give him the answers. But that is really a lifelong lesson in knowing that the answers don’t exist outside of yourself — that you’re the only one with the answers.”

But through it all, she said that the most difficult thing was being unsure if he would "have enough time to do all the work that he wanted to do" with the projects on his schedule:

“I think that the hardest thing was wondering if he was going to have enough time to do all the work that he wanted to do, because he was very clear on what he needed to do.”

Chadwick Boseman Remembered as the MCU Moves On

Chadwick Boseman's death has easily been one of the biggest challenges for everybody in and around the MCU, and it's been even more the case for immediate family members like his widow, Simone. 

Having been with her late husband since before the cancer battle ever began, she was right by his side for every joyous moment that he spent playing the Black Panther in the MCU, which came alongside a bevy of other movies as well. Finding out about such late-stage cancer so quickly was unquestionably heartbreaking for both of them, and with the actor not being as public of a figure as many others of his caliber, keeping that secret wasn't easy for everybody involved.

But as will be the case in Black Panther 2, Boseman's widow tries to remember the great times they had together as she keeps his spirit close to her heart.

This will be shown in great depth during the next Marvel Studios film, as the late King T'Challa will be a central focus of the story with the Black Panther being laid to rest. Hopefully, it will allow fans to get a sense of the way his widow and the Marvel family felt about him as they celebrate his life and memory in Phase 4's final movie.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will debut in theaters on Friday, November 11.