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Flip or Flop's Tarek El Moussa reveals he survived testicular cancer in addition to his previously revealed thyroid cancer

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March 06, 2017 08:25 AM

Tarek El Moussa openly shared his health updates with the world while he underwent thyroid cancer treatment in 2013, but there was another cancer battle he was keeping secret.

“Testicular cancer is more of a private thing,” the Flip or Flop star says in the upcoming issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

El Moussa’s cancer story started in 2013 when an avid fan noticed a lump on his neck and wrote in to the show’s producers to say that she was a nurse and thought the HGTV star might have thyroid cancer.

After El Moussa — who privately split from his wife Christina last May — was properly diagnosed, “Christina and I looked through all my old medical records for any other irregularities,” he says.

RELATED VIDEO: Christina El Moussa Opens Up About Her Split from Husband Tarek

 

They found an irregular testicular exam from two years earlier and two months after his thyroid cancer diagnosis he decided to get further testing done.

“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!’ “

“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 took a few weeks to process his diagnosis, but eventually scheduled his surgeries and radioactive iodine therapy in order to successfully beat the cancers.

Christina and Tarek El Moussa in 2013.
Courtesy Christina El Moussa
  • For more from El Moussa – including how his health issues contributed to the collapse of his 7-year marriage – pick up the upcoming issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Though his thyroid cancer became a plot line on his reality series, he remained quiet about his testicular cancer.

But now, his stepfather is battling the same disease.

“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,’ ” says El Moussa. “His is worse through because he waited longer. He knew there was something wrong when he told my mom years ago, but he never went to the doctor. His cancer has spread to his lymph nodes and now he has to do chemotherapy.”

Inspired by how he’s become a support for his stepfather, El Moussa decided it was time to go public with his second battle.

“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.”

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