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Taboo of The Black Eyed Peas

Speaks Out about His Fight with Testicular Cancer

by Kaylene Chadwell

Celebrity Cancer Survivor

Born Jimmy Luis Gomez, Taboo is best known as the longhaired rapper/dancer from the multi­platinum pop group The Black Eyed Peas. With more than 75 million records sold – not to mention six Grammy Awards – The Black Eyed Peas are one of the world’s best-selling pop groups. Along with will.i.am, Fergie, and apl.de.ap, Taboo has contributed to pop hits like “Boom Boom Pow,” “Where Is the Love?” and “I Gotta Feeling.”

In 2006, Taboo broke his tailbone after falling onstage during a perfor­mance. After that incident, he began having what he calls “crazy back pains.” But, chalking it up to his tail­bone not healing properly, he didn’t really think anything of it. “The pain started getting stronger and stronger every year,” Taboo admits in a recent interview with Coping, “but I never went to a doctor to see what it was.”

Then one night in June 2014, upon returning home from a gig, the pain became so severe that Taboo couldn’t take it any longer. His wife insisted he go to the hospital. After an MRI, CAT scans, and blood work, Taboo was told the next morning that he had stage II testicular cancer. He says it had spread from his right testicle to two lymph nodes in his spine. The years of pain that he had attributed to his broken tailbone was actually caused by his growing tumor.

“I’m a warrior.
I’m a champion.
I’m a Fighter.
I’m not givin’ in.”
      – Taboo, “The Fight”

Celebrity Cancer Survivor

Taboo with his family (clockwise from top left): wife Jaymie; daughter Jett; and sons Joshua, Jimmy, and Journey.

All photos courtesy of Taboo

Just one day later, Taboo had sur­gery to remove the cancerous testicle, and then he began chemotherapy a few days after that. “Everything was back to back,” Taboo explains. “There was no time to react. We just had to go with it.”

For the next twelve weeks, Taboo underwent chemotherapy five days a week. When asked about the hardest challenge he faced during his cancer experience, Taboo says it was the che­motherapy. It left him in excruciating pain and unable to sleep. He admits, “There were moments when I wanted to give up.”

But what hurt even more than the pain was not being able to be with his kids like he wanted to. He says, “When I was doing chemotherapy, there were times when I’d be tired and I wasn’t able to do things like run in the back­yard with my kids or play with them. And I’m a very affectionate father. I love to be with my kids.”

Taboo, who has three sons (Joshua, Jimmy, and Journey), was also told he may not be able to father another child after chemotherapy. Although he and his wife, Jaymie, visited a fertility doc­tor and banked his sperm before he started treatment, they later decided, “If it happens, it was meant to be; if not, we’re blessed to have [the boys].” Well, it must have been meant to be because, in 2015, the couple learned that they were going to have another child, a girl they named Jett Juliana. Taboo calls her his “miracle baby.”

Now cancer-free, Taboo has checkups every three months and is diligently looking after his health. He has also become an ambassador for the American Cancer Society, using his voice to raise awareness and to inspire other cancer survivors. In November, he released a new single, “The Fight,” as an inspira­tional anthem for cancer survivors, and is donating the proceeds to the ACS to support cancer research and free patient service programs.

Taboo explains, “I want to be the per­son that says, ‘We’re not going to curl up into a ball. We’re going to get up and fight. We’re going to survive this. We’re not going to let this cancer beat us.’ That’s ultimately what I want with this song, that sense of encouragement, that sense of hope and motivation that you can get through anything.”

The official video for his song “The Fight” is set to be released this year, along with a new Black Eyed Peas album. Plus, Taboo plans to keep work­ing as an ACS Ambassador. As of now, 2017 looks to be a busy year for the Grammy-winning rapper. But don’t worry, he says, “I’m busy. It doesn’t stop. But I’m understanding my health comes before everything. I won’t go full speed ahead and neglect my health.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Download Taboo’s song “The Fight” at Cancer.org/Taboo. And check out more music from Taboo at Youtube.com/OfficialTaboo.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, January/February 2017.