Tarek El Moussa Opens Up About How a Stranger 'Helped Save' His Life by Diagnosing Cancer on TV
The Flip or Flop star appears in the exclusive clip above as part of Chasing the Cure Saved By a Stranger, a digital video series, released ahead of the new weekly live broadcast Chasing the Cure, which will be anchored and executive produced by Ann Curry and premiere August 8 on TBS and TNT.
In a new interview, El Moussa details the story of how a fan watching his and ex-wife Christina’s HGTV show urged him to go to the doctor after she spotted a lump on his neck.
“It was the beginning of season 2 of Flip or Flop,” El Moussa explains in the clip (above). “I’m shooting my show. I’m returning emails and text messages. I’m busy with work. And then I get the email from the nurse in Texas.”
El Moussa then reads the email out loud: “This is not a joke. I am a registered nurse. I’ve been watching Flip or Flop. I noticed that Tarek, the host, has a large nodule on his thyroid and he needs to have it checked out.”
Immediately, El Moussa says his “heart dropped” and he scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the following day.
“I knew that if a nurse took the time, energy and effort to send an email from Texas to mention my neck, there was probably something wrong,” he explains.
The doctors diagnosed the house flipper with stage-three thyroid cancer in 2013, and he underwent surgery to have his thyroid and multiple lymph nodes removed. (El Moussa was also diagnosed with testicular cancer that same year.) He is now cancer free.
“If she didn’t send that email, there’s a chance I wouldn’t be doing this interview right now,” the dad of two explains. “If she didn’t send that email, maybe there are other people out there that never would have found out they had cancer because I didn’t have my story.”
“Every day I wake up and I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful for the life I have. I’m grateful for my family and I’m just happy,” El Moussa says, referring to his daughter Taylor, 8, and son Brayden, 3, whom he shares with Christina, who remarried in December 2018.
“It might sound a little crazy but I feel like everything that happened to me, happened for a reason, and I wouldn’t change it,” he continues.
The series Chasing the Cure will air ten live 90-minute episodes focusing on people with “puzzling ailments.” The patients will meet with top doctors who will try to help solve their mysterious cases. According to a release from the networks, they range “from the surprising and odd, to the most uplifting and joyful, to cases that are a race against the clock under heartbreaking life or death circumstances.”
Viewers will also be able to interact with one another in real time on social media (@chasingthecure), via a dedicated Facebook group, and on the show’s website, as well as submit their own cases for consideration and discussion. The hope is that through the power of crowdsourcing, users around the world can get help with their undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or uncured medical conditions, not dissimilarly from El Moussa’s fateful connection.
“I’m thrilled to be sharing my story because I might be able to save another life,” El Moussa says. “At the end of the day, I know the power of TV and I know the power of medicine. I know the power of people, and when you combine all those three, it’s life changing and it’s absolutely incredible.”
Chasing the Cure premieres live on Thursday, August 8 at 9pm ET/6PM PT on TNT and TBS.