Shark Tank's Daymond John Opens Up About His Private Cancer Battle — and How He Caught the Disease Early
"I just want to share my story to empower people to take control of their health," says Daymond John. "This is something we all have to be diligent about."
When Daymond John was told he might have thyroid cancer, he chose to focus on the positive.
“I’m not the type of guy who sees the glass as half empty. The glass is always half full,” the Shark Tank star — who revealed his cancer battle on Good Morning America Tuesday — tells PEOPLE. “Once I realized that there was something I could actually do to get rid of it, I was extremely happy.”
In March, John underwent an “executive physical” — which is a more extensive physical than what many people get annually — as part of his recent decision to get proactive about his health.
“For the past two years, I’ve really been trying to push to find out more about my health because I started to get an education about how you can reduce the problems of colon cancer with colonoscopies. As an African American man, I should have started that at 45, so I went and got one,” says John, 48.
During the physical, John’s doctor found a 1-in. nodule on John’s thyroid during the physical and had it biopsied.
“I had no symptoms at all,” says John, who is the CEO of the FUBU corporation and an investor on ABC’s hit shows Shark Tank — on which he’s starred since 2009 — and Beyond the Tank. “You would think you’d be able to feel a 1-in. nodule in your throat, but I didn’t feel anything.”
The biopsy revealed there were atypical cells in the mass. The doctor said there was a 50/50 chance the nodule was cancerous and that half John’s thyroid should be removed. Surgery was set for April.
“I went in and had a surgery and was able to not skip a beat,” says John.
After the surgery, the nodule was tested and John was told it had been Stage 2 cancer.
“I’m so grateful that I went and got this thing looked into. I know there are a lot of debates about if [expensive] executive physicals are worth it or not, but in my case it was worth more than gold — or anything else — because it saved me from a lot of potential problems down the road,” says John. “So I’m sharing this information with all the people I know — if they have [financial] resources or they don’t. And if they don’t, I’m discussing the options of what else they can do: look into family history and illnesses and do what you can to catch things early. People don’t have any idea they should be doing this.”
John says he’s now “cancer-free” but will have to get his thyroid checked regularly for the rest of his life.
“I’m going to go and start doing executive physicals more often — maybe every two years — and I have to keep an eye on what is going on with my remaining half of my thyroid for the rest of my life,” he says. “But I’m also going to do colonoscopies and other procedures to check all kinds of different things. No matter how successful you think you are, if you are not healthy, it doesn’t matter what money you make.”
“I’m very, very happy I didn’t go through any pain or suffering, and I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me because I am happy and up and running like normal,” he continues. “I just want to share my story to empower people to take control of their health. This is something we all have to be diligent about.”