Last month, Flip or Flop star Tarek El Moussa revealed that he had been secretly battling testicular cancer at the same time that he was publicly battling thyroid cancer. This week, he opened up to People magazine about the decision to share that second cancer diagnosis, and why he kept it private in the first place.
El Moussa — who separated from co-host and wife Christina last spring, filed for divorce in January, and last week admitted to dating the family's nanny — told the magazine how he found out about the testicular cancer while undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer in 2013. He and Christina looked through his old medical records after his thyroid diagnosis and found an irregular testicular exam result from a couple years earlier.
“I was at one building doing my thyroid stuff and mentioned I was going across the street to get an ultrasound done,” El Moussa say of the day of the testing. “I’ll never forget the doctor joking, ‘I hope you don’t have cancer!’" He continued, “I get over to the ultrasound and [the technician and I] are talking and having fun and all of a sudden he got really quiet,” El Moussa recalls. “I said, ‘What’s up?’ I could tell he was nervous and he was like ‘Oh, I’m not a doctor.' I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘Are you in pain? I think you’re in pain and should go to the emergency room.’ Right then, I knew something was wrong. A half hour later they tell me I have cancer and try to sign me up for surgery. That was devastating.”
El Moussa, who underwent surgeries and radioactive iodine therapy for both cancers, remained quiet about his second diagnosis because "testicular cancer is more of a private thing." But the reality star — now cancer-free — recently decided to open up thanks to his brave stepdad, who is battling cancer himself.
“I talked to [my stepfather] and I said, ‘Listen, you were there for me when I went through it and now I’m here for you while you go through it,’” he told People. There's also the hope of spreading awareness and encouraging people to get themselves tested. “A lot of people said they got tested because I shared my [thyroid cancer] story,” he says. “I thought this was the time to come forward because it could save some lives.” Not a bad reason at all.