Guys: Jimmy Luis Gomez, a.k.a. Taboo of the multiple Grammy-winning pop band the Black Eyed Peas, wants you to man up and talk with your doctor about getting your testicles regularly checked for cancer.
"I was diagnosed with Stage 2 testicular cancer in 2014 after six years of chronic back pain," he said, adding that he thought the pain was from when he fell offstage during a performance and broke his tailbone. "In actuality, it was my tumor growing."
Things became unbearable two years ago when the spasms spread to his abdomen, and Gomez's wife insisted he go to the hospital. "The next morning, they told me I had cancer. The first thing I thought about was my kids and my wife and if I was going to live."
Gomez's physician told him the cancer was spreading rapidly and would move into his lymph nodes and spine, then eventually his lungs and brain, causing death.
"I had surgery the next day," Gomez said. "When they tell you they're going to remove your right testicle; any man will freak out. Those are your jewels!"
Treatment then became even more challenging.
"Chemotherapy started right away," he said. "It was 12 weeks, five days a week, six hours a day. It was the worst experience of my life."
ESPN helped him get through.
"There was a moment when I wanted to give up," Gomez said. "I tried listening to a meditation tape, but it just annoyed me so I turned on ESPN and saw sportscaster Stuart Scott talking about his battle with cancer. He brought his daughters up and I cried because he went through what I was going through."
That same ESPN programming turned to stories of other sports greats who'd battled cancer, such as college basketball player and coach (and later broadcaster) Jimmy Valvano and Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
"It took my mind off of the nightmare," Gomez said. "I wasn't a hard-core sports guy before, but during chemo, I found a real appreciation for it."
Another thing that helped distract him was writing the song "The Fight" to inspire others battling cancer, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
"I was so out of it from chemo, I had a team help me write it," he said. "I was so glad to have them help me create this anthem."
After chemotherapy, Gomez got back to his old lifestyle of regular workouts, but "I got hit with shingles because I was going too hard. My body let me know I still had a weak immune system. Now I'm more aware of putting my health first."
Gomez lifts weights and does kickboxing to stay fit. In addition, "I never thought I'd get into yoga, but I tapped into a spiritual side of it that I probably never would have if I hadn't gone through this."
Always a fitness fan, Gomez felt invincible. "Then I got hit with cancer." Now he encourages others, saying, "No matter what, you have to listen to your body. If something is wrong with you, if you have pain or swelling, please don't neglect that."
Gomez, now cancer free, was overjoyed to discover that after the treatment, he still had the ability to expand his family, welcoming a little girl.
"It was a blessing to have children again after this experience," he said. "My life is about my family."
Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of bodyforwife.com.