Thriving with Cancer
- The A-Team star Mr. T has been a WWF wrestler, a bodyguard, a bouncer, and most importantly, a cancer survivor. The veteran has been living with lymphoma for many years, still thriving today as he just turned 70.
- Using his famous phrase from the hit ’80s series, Mr. T says “he pities the fool” who just gives up on their cancer fight. He urges that we can be living with cancer, and not just dying with it.
- Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that affects infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. And there are more than 40 different types of lymphoma.
“T” has been a WWF wrestler, a bodyguard, a bouncer, and most importantly, he’s a cancer survivor.Read More
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Mr. T found a small lump when he was removing one of his trademark diamond earrings back in 1995. After a biopsy two weeks later, a dermatologist diagnosed him with a rare type of T-cell lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer. “Can you imagine that?!,“ he said, according to Coping with Cancer magazine. “Cancer with my name on it—personalized cancer.”
According to the health pub, Mr. T is currently looking for a publisher for his new book Cancer Saved My Life: Cancer Ain’t for No Wimps, and some of these quotes were pulled from those excerpts.
It’s Mr. T’s Birthday!
What happens when the ultimate tough guy goes head-to-head with cancer?
— Coping with Cancer (@Coping_Cancer) May 21, 2022
He underwent a CT scan and bone marrow aspiration to gauge how it was looking, having similar thoughts to most of us processing a cancer diagnosis. “Now comes the worry,” he recalled. “Here comes doubt, here comes anxiety, here comes fear, here comes that sick feeling down in the pit of my stomach. Can’t eat, can’t sleep. One day passes. No call from my doctor.”
Luckily, the cancer was localized to his ear, which means it hadn’t spread further. He had four weeks of radiation treatment. Overjoyed, he then learned that the cancer was gone.
A Cancer Recurrence
Eleven months later, the cancer came back. “Cancer sores sprouting up on my body and I can’t stop it! I have no control over this cancer growing outside of my body on my arms, my back, my legs, and my stomach … It is cancer popping like microwave popcorn on my body. I am afraid at this point; no tough guy today,” he admitted.
Mr. T immediately began six weeks of intense chemotherapy, and suffered from extreme nausea, placing buckets all over the house. “I see why some cancer patients give up the struggle for life and quit,” he said. “With my body, my mind, and my spirit shell-shocked like that, quitting seems easy … Chemo and cancer fight from my head to my toes.”
Tragically, the chemo wasn’t working, which is every cancer patient’s worst nightmare, especially as you have to endure such physical and mental at torture at times, depending on the severity of symptoms. He tried interferon therapy for 18 months—which reduces the growth and division of leukemia cells—then more lower dose chemo, then more radiation … followed by more chemo.
Unfortunately, this seemingly never-ending cycle went on for years.
“I have grown into a cancer fighter. I am a soldier, a veteran at that,” Mr. T shared. “Cancer wants to fight me again. I am not afraid this time. Fighting cancer for the third time, can I still believe in God? Yes, I can, and stronger than before.”
His faith—and immense strength—formed as a young boy growing up in the Chicago housing projects with eleven siblings. He realized while going through this living nightmare that all the fortune and fame he amassed meant nothing. My fame couldn’t save me!” he said. “My gold, my money couldn’t stop cancer from appearing on my body. If they can’t save me, then I don’t need them.”
Mr. T is now accustomed to living with cancer. “I pity the fool who just gives up,” he says, using his famous A-Team phrase, “We all gonna die eventually from something or other, but don’t be a wimp. Put up a good fight. Don’t sit around waiting on death. We can be tough. We can be determined. Go out and have some fun and make death find you! We can be living with cancer, not dying from it. We can be cancer survivors.”
“One more thing,” the Professional Pitier of Fools (as it says on his Instagram) added.
“If you don’t remind me that I have cancer then I won’t remember either, because I am too busy living,” he proudly points out. “If you see me, please come by and shake my hand; give me a hug, a thumbs-up or a high five; take a photo with me, or let’s do lunch, because cancer ain’t contagious. That would really make my day.”
Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that affects infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. And there are more than 40 different types of lymphoma.
“Lymphoma is split up into a number of different categories,” Dr. Elise Chong, a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, tells SurvivorNet.
“The first distinguishing breakpoint, if you will, is non-Hodgkin lymphoma versus Hodgkin lymphoma,” she adds, “and those sound like two different categories. But non-Hodgkin lymphoma comprises the majority of lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma is a single specific type of lymphoma.”
Mr. T’s type falls under non-Hodgkin.
Hodgkin lymphoma has distinctive, giant cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. The presence of these cells, which can be seen under a microscope, will help your doctor determine which of the two lymphoma types you have.
There are a few other important differences between non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma to note. For one thing, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is much more common. And you’re more likely to be diagnosed with it after age 55. People usually develop Hodgkin lymphoma at a younger age.
It should be noted that another difference between these two types of lymphoma is that non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to spread in a random fashion and be found in different groups of lymph nodes in the body, while Hodgkin lymphoma is more likely to grow in a uniform way from one group of lymph nodes directly to another.
These two different types of lymphoma behave, spread and respond to treatment differently, so it’s important for you to know which type you have.