Lance Gross Reveals His Family’s Extensive History With Colon Cancer: “I’m High Risk”

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BET & Lena Waithe's Boomerang Season 2 Premiere

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It’s not often that after being canceled, a television series gets rebooted by a new network with all of the original cast members. We witnessed it when “The Game” transitioned from the CW to BET. And now, Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne,” which originally aired on TBS, has found a new home at BET as well.

“It picks up where we left off. So in the last episode, the audience saw Calvin and Miranda broke up. So we pick up with them divorced, well actually, they’re going through their divorce,” Lance Gross, who plays Calvin Payne in the series, told MadameNoire. “Time has passed and, yeah, it’s a lot of drama but it’s also a lot of comedy.”

Speaking of time passing, Gross’ daughter, Berkeley, who wasn’t even born yet when the show aired its last episode in 2012, recently started kindergarten.

“It’s crazy. It just went by so quickly. It confirms that it goes by quickly, and you just have to enjoy every single moment. But I’m so proud of her. Because even though she’s in kindergarten, it feels like she’s a sixth-grader,” the father of two gushed. “She’s just so bright, smart, she asks all the right questions, and she just listens. She just absorbs everything. So, I’m proud of my baby.”

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Like many kindergarteners who are beginning their K-12 tenure this school year, Berkeley is learning remotely.

“She hates it,” Gross laughed, “but she understands that it’s school, and she has to do it. I mean, she really gets excited to be on there with her classmates and her friends. Because you know, these crazy times, it’s like, we’re in the house! So that’s a fun moment for her, but as far as sitting in front of the computer, she does not like that.”

Similar to some of the other modifications we have been forced to take as a result of COVID-19, remote learning is not ideal for anyone. But despite the inconvenience of it all, the last several months have caused many families to adjust their perspectives and count their blessings. For the Gross family, the pandemic has illuminated the value of teamwork.

“For me, with everything going on in this quarantine, we really feel like we’re syncing into the teamwork of what a marriage is because a lot of the times, before quarantine, it was like I’m just so on the go, pursuing my career,” said Lance, who recently celebrated his fifth wedding anniversary with his wife, Rebecca. “I’m working six months filming in this city and then I get my time with my family, which is very important to me. Now, we’re just here under one roof, my wife and my kids. We’re the best teammates. We bounce off each other kinda like Jordan and Pippin. She passes me to rock, I gotta do what I gotta do. I pass her the rock, and she’s doing what she’s got to do. So yeah, it’s just that.”

BET & Lena Waithe's Boomerang Season 2 Premiere

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The events of 2020 have changed us all in more ways than one. Most recently, the death of Chadwick Boseman, who died after silently battling colon cancer for four years rocked friends and fans alike across the globe.

“His passing has affected all of us, you know? It’s very unfortunate, and he will be greatly missed. The way he died sparked something in me. I didn’t mention it in the other interview but my grandmother died from colon cancer,” the Meet the Browns actor shared. “So it really hit home. My father also beat colon cancer. During his checkup, they found polyps that were cancerous; they had to remove thirteen inches of his colon. Luckily, he caught it.”

Since Boseman was only 43 when he passed, Gross decided that now was as good of a time as any to begin testing for the curable, but potentially deadly disease. Sadly, he was initially discouraged by his physician.

“For me, immediately, I was like, you know what, I’m 39, I need to go get checked,” Lance went on. “I knew I was high-risk. So I went to my doctor’s appointment, and I told him I was doing a physical, so I fasted and everything. I told him that I wanted to have a colonoscopy. I needed a referral for a colonoscopy. And he asked me, oh, how old are you? And I told him I was thirty-nine. He was like, ‘Oh, you don’t even have to worry about that. We don’t worry about that until you’re 45.’ But for me, I’m like, ‘No, I am worried about it because I’m high risk. My father beat colon cancer. My grandmother died from colon cancer and we just lost someone very dear to us who died from colon cancer, and he was only 43.’ So he’s been fighting this fight for four years. So he was thirty-nine. So, I think I’m right on time. I need that.”

“When I said that he said, ‘It’s funny because a lot of my African-American patients are coming in today, and they’re asking about colonoscopies. And I’m like, yeah, because we just lost someone dear to us, you know what I mean?” 

Despite this revelation, the “House of Payne” actor faced similar pushback when he requested a prostate exam.

“I also told them that I wanted my prostate check, and he was like, ‘Well, you don’t need to worry about that until you’re 50.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, if you tell me I don’t need to worry about something again, it’s gonna be a problem.'”

Not having our concerns taken seriously by those in the medical profession is a pervasive issue experienced by Black people. Much of it is due to racial biases held by doctors and nurses of other races. However, insurance companies also play a role.

“It’s a problem with doctors. I just feel like, if you’re concerned about something, if you request something, why are you telling us no. African-Americans aren’t different from any other. And then another problem is the insurance companies. They put you into these boxes where they say you don’t need to be tested or you shouldn’t be tested until you’re forty to forty-five. Like what is that? That’s a problem that needs to be fixed because we’re in different times. I don’t know what you’re basing that off of. There are different hormones in food. There are different cancer-causing issues with food, and it’s just in the air! I mean, we’re dealing with COVID-19. Nobody saw this coming. So why are you placing us in the box? If I request something about my health, I need you to make sure that you’re doing the proper checks that I want.”

“House of Payne” airs on BET Wednesdays at 8/7c

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