Flip Or Flop host Tarek El Moussa wants everyone to know just how sick he was with cancer as recently as just a couple of years ago and has shared some disturbing photos on social media to show fans just how bad things were when he was at rock bottom, health-wise.
As Yahoo News reports, the 36-year-old HGTV star took to Instagram last week to show a photo of himself at his lowest, ravaged by cancer and, some would say even worse, cancer treatments.
“I thought I would share this with everyone… to truly understand how absolutely sick I was.. look at this photo and look at my eyes, I was a skeleton.”
That was Tarek’s “Before” shot. It was followed a day later by an “After” shot, showing the Flip Or Flop host looking hale and hearty.
“I think this picture represents winning the war against my illnesses.”
Notice Tarek said “illnesses” – plural. That’s because, for a time in and around 2013-2014, he had three major health problems going on at once. He would later describe that time as “the worst months of my life.”
Back on March 7, Tarek sat down with People to talk about the illnesses that took their toll on his physical and mental health, as well as his marriage.
In 2013, Tarek was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, thanks in large part to an observant HGTV viewer, who noticed a lump in the host’s neck during an episode of Flip Or Flop. The viewer, who is a nurse, wrote to HGTV to alert Tarek’s bosses; next thing you know, he’s undergoing thyroid cancer treatment.
While they were getting over the shock of thyroid cancer, Tarek and his doctors noticed something else: testicular cancer. Unlike his thyroid cancer, which became something of a sub-plot on Flip Or Flop, Tarek kept his testicular cancer diagnosis to himself.
On top of it all, Tarek also suffered a debilitating back injury during this time, according to Today.
His health problems were followed by a highly-publicized series of marital problems, which were undoubtedly aggravated by his health problems. The situation came to a head in May 2016, when the couple quietly filed for divorce following an ugly incident in which the police were called to the couple’s home.
Nowadays, with Tarek back on the mend physically and their tabloid-worthy divorce behind them, Tarek and ex-wife Christina are focusing on their children. As Page Six reports, the couple is trying to make life as normal as possible for their children, daughter Taylor, 6, and son Brayden, 18 months. As of this writing, Tarek and Christina have an informal custody agreement that divides up the kids between the two homes “about 50/50.”
“[We’ll] probably always spend the holidays together. We’re getting through this by staying great friends and being the best parents possible. Divorced couples who fight their whole lives really mess up their kids. We had a talk and said, ‘We still want the kids to understand we’re a unit — that we’re still a family even if we’re not together.'”
And as for why he’s sharing details of his cancer battle now: Tarek makes it clear that he hopes his speaking up will encourage viewers to take cancer seriously.
“A lot of people said they got tested because I shared my [thyroid cancer] story. I thought this was the time to come forward because it could save some lives.”
New episodes of Flip Or Flop air Thursdays at 9:00 P.M. Eastern Time on HGTV.
[Featured Image by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Lakewood Center]