The former A-Team star was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 1995, and he told PEOPLE after Monday’s episode, “that’s why I’m dancing.”
“I want to talk about my situation to give hope to someone who has just been diagnosed,” he added. “Like a mother with her child — [I want to] tell them, ‘Hey, I come from there, but don’t quit.’ That’s why I’m doing it. That’s why I don’t want to say dancing is hard — if dancing is hard, then what’s that saying to the people out there going through cancer?”
Mr. T underwent several rounds of chemotherapy over the years, and he told PEOPLE what gave him hope was his “faith in God.”
“It was a test of my faith,” he said. “I’m very spiritual. In the Book of Job, he was challenged [but he] kept believing in God and that’s the message I try to tell other people. Just because you believe in God, serve God, feed the hungry, clothe the naked … that doesn’t mean things are not going to happen to you.”
“I had to practice what I preached,” he continued. “I try to use my experience and the fact that I grew up in the ghetto — I tell people you don’t have to rob or steal to get out of the ghetto. I was diagnosed with cancer — I tell people you don’t have to commit suicide. We’ve got good medicine now. I want people to draw strength from me.”
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And when it comes to the ABC dance competition, Mr. T said he’s learning to adjust.
“It’s not easy,” he admitted. “I don’t want people to think you can just get out there and dance. [It requires] a lot of practice and determination and I think a lot of celebrities don’t realize this takes time and effort. Like anything you do, you only get out of it what you put into it.”
“Each week I just want improve,” he added. “My mother used to tell me the biggest room is the room for improvement.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.