Al Copeland was a successful entrepreneur who founded the Popeyes fast food chain and several other restaurants. He was also known for his flamboyant lifestyle and his love for spicy food. But what was the cause of death of this New Orleans icon? How did he cope with his illness and what legacy did he leave behind?
The Diagnosis: A Rare and Aggressive Cancer
According to NBC News, Copeland was diagnosed with a malignant salivary gland tumor shortly before Thanksgiving in 2007. This type of cancer, also known as Merkel-cell carcinoma, is a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer that affects the cells that produce touch sensation. It usually occurs on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the head and neck, and can spread quickly to other parts of the body.
The exact cause of Merkel-cell carcinoma is not clear, but some risk factors include exposure to ultraviolet radiation, a weakened immune system, and a history of other skin cancers. The symptoms may include a painless lump or growth on the skin that may be red, blue, or purple in color. The treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
The Treatment: Seeking a Cure in Germany
Copeland did not give up hope after his diagnosis. He sought treatment in various places, including the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He also traveled to Germany to receive an experimental treatment that was not available in the United States.
According to Wikipedia, Copeland underwent a procedure called hyperthermia therapy at a clinic near Munich, Germany. This therapy involves heating the body or a part of the body to high temperatures to kill cancer cells or make them more sensitive to other treatments. However, this therapy is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and has not been proven to be effective or safe for treating cancer.
Unfortunately, Copeland’s condition did not improve despite his efforts. He died on March 23, 2008, at the age of 64. His death was announced by his spokeswoman, Kit Wohl.
The Legacy: A Spicy and Colorful Life
Copeland left behind a legacy of success, innovation, and philanthropy. He started his career as a doughnut seller and went on to create one of the most popular fast food chains in the world. He also founded several other restaurants that offered Cajun-style cuisine and cheesecake desserts. He was a pioneer in franchising and seasoning products.
Copeland was also famous for his extravagant lifestyle. He loved racing powerboats, driving luxury cars, and decorating his mansion with lavish Christmas lights. He had nine children by four wives and was involved in several lawsuits and scandals. He was admired by many for his passion and generosity, but also disliked by some for his arrogance and excess.
Copeland’s life story inspired a musical comedy called “The Kingfish”, which premiered in New Orleans in 2010. The show featured songs written by Copeland’s son-in-law Harry Mayronne Jr. and lyrics by Fred Palmisano.
Copeland’s family continues to run his businesses and foundations. They also established the Al Copeland Foundation to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. The foundation hosts an annual event called “Chicken Jam”, which features live music, food, and auctions.
Al Copeland was a man who lived life to the fullest. He faced many challenges and opportunities with courage and creativity. He left an indelible mark on the world of food and entertainment. He will always be remembered as the spicy chicken king who made millions smile.