“But You Don’t Look Sick”

The recent death of Chadwick Boseman sheds light on an ongoing issue: Invisible illnesses

Manny Al-Nsour, Web Editor

If you looked at 8 year old me, on the outside you would see a happy, healthy and active typical young kid. You would look at me and never consider that I have any health problems. What you wouldn’t see is truly how sick I was. You wouldn’t see the way I could barely eat, or all the weight I lost before I was even in middle school.

One morning when I was in the hospital, a volunteer was going around reading books to sick kids. When she came into my room, she looked me up and down.

 “Are you sure you’re supposed to be here? You don’t look sick,” she said.

The comment was meant to be harmless, maybe even a compliment, but it still haunts me to this day. I constantly felt like I had to prove my sickness or make up excuses for the invisible symptoms that no healthy person would understand. I often found myself doing things to prove myself to those who told me I “wasn’t sick enough.”

This issue has recently come to light in the passing of Chadwick Boseman, a talented and beloved actor. Boseman, who is well known for his role in Marvel’s “Black Panther,” has always been seen as a strong, big and buff man, but what you didn’t see is his four year-long battle with colon cancer. 

Boseman, like many others, decided to keep his invisible illness invisible. Up until  April, when he lost a noticeable amount of weight, Boseman was known as a strong individual, physically and mentally. When he became visibly sick, internet dwellers started calling him “Crack Panther,” saying that one month of quarantine turned the strong Black Panther everyone knew into a frail, insignificant being. Nobody ever considered that he was fighting cancer.

While it is impossible to tell who may or may not be immunocompromised, a viral disease can be life-threatening to those with an invisible illness. It is still crucial that we are considerate of the needs of others, especially in a time like now. As the name suggests, invisible illnesses can’t be physically seen, yet they can be the most difficult battles anyone might face.