For Hamilton star Javier Muñoz, getting back to normal after surviving cancer meant rejoining Broadway’s hottest show. But for most survivors, something as simple as a walk to the grocery store can feel like a major triumph.
That’s the message behind a new PSA for the new Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Muñoz, who recently opened up about his cancer battle with PEOPLE, stars in the clip titled “The Runner.” The video follows the actor as he walks down the streets of New York City running errands, and as he walks, we hear his internal monologue reminding him of all the things he needs to pick up.
“A year ago today he had only one thing on his mind: surviving cancer,” reads the text at the end of the video. The video then explains that Muñoz was diagnosed with cancer last year, and asks for help funding Geoffrey Beene’s revolutionary cancer research. In addition, the video states that 100% of the net profits from the fashion designer’s fund will go to the new research center.
While Muñoz was diagnosed with cancer last year, he did not go public with the news and even kept the diagnosis from his parents — both of whom are cancer survivors.
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“At first, I knew I needed to go through this myself,” Muñoz, who has not specified what kind of cancer he had, told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview after returning to Hamilton. “I don’t know how to explain it other than saying everything felt like it was mine, and I needed to face this and I needed it to be on my terms. I was very, I don’t want to say proud, because it wasn’t pride. It was looking at the mountain and thinking, ‘I can’t take anyone up this with me. I think I have to meet people on the way.’ No one can give me that fight. I had to find it in me.”
Muñoz, who repeatedly described himself as a fighter, went into surgery with one of his three older brothers by his side before beginning radiation treatments. It was after the operation that he shared his diagnosis with his parents. While he said they weren’t happy to learn he had kept the news from them, his relationship with his family has deepened significantly since.
“My inclination, my instinct, my reaction to the fear I felt was solitude,” he said. “And that’s what I think was behind my silence and how long it took me to say anything to anyone. People in my life had no idea and I was doing my best to hide it.”
He’s also reflected on his renewed outlook on life.
“I look at all the positive on this side of things now that I’m through all the surgery and the treatments,” he said, “and I’m strong and the weight has come back on my body and my endurance is back, and I regret that I was so silent.”