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Ted Talk 79: Oops! I Almost Had Cancer…

Ted always thought there’s a little chance for him to be diagnosed with colon cancer because his dad had it in his forties. But, since he was always very healthy and had a great immune system, he thought he would be okay.

In this Ted Talk episode, Ted talks about what happened when his doctor told him the diagnosis. He is not going to go into the nitty-gritty details, but this was an experience that changed his life forever and has made him more grateful for what he has in life.

But also gave him the perspective that having a healthy lifestyle is not enough to be disease-free.

The fact is that Colon cancer, which is also called colorectal cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States. The good news is that Colon cancer is one cancer that can often be easily prevented.

So, if you had a family member that had cancer, or even a friend, you should listen to this episode to get serious about taking care of yourself and reclaiming your health. So, you don’t have to end up having a health scare to understand that your health should be your number one priority in life. Listen now!


You’ll learn:

Ted’ story on how he almost had cancer [05:07 – 22:02]

Why a healthy lifestyle is not enough to keep you healthy [08:46 – 13:30]

What life with colon cancer means? Ted’s father’s story. [06:48 – 18:50]

The importance of regular checkups [08:46 – 27:09]

And much more…


Links Mentioned: 

Follow me on Twitter @ted_ryce


Related Episodes:  

427: Unconventional Medicine: Reverse Chronic Disease, Take Your Health Back, And Create A Life You Love With Chris Kresser

372: Inflammation 101: The Invisible Health Condition Behind Everything From Heart Disease To Erectile Dysfunction

179: Ted Ryce: 5 Science-Backed Ways To Take Control Of Your Health And Prevent Chronic Disease


Podcast Transcription: RTF 77: Oops! I almost had cancer...

Ted Ryce: "Another year or two and you would have had cancer, Ted!" Those were the words that a gastroenterologist told me just a month ago.

What is up my friends! Welcome back to another episode of the Legendary Life podcast. I'm your host, Ted Ryce, and I'm a health expert. Been in the business for 23 years. I'm a coach to entrepreneurs, executives, and other high-performing professionals. And you're listening to the Legendary Life podcast where we break down science-based information on how to lose fat, prevent disease and live a longer, healthier legendary life.

And today is a Real Talk Friday and we get real on Real Talk Fridays, hence the name. And so I want to share this. I've been wanting to share it for a while, but I've had a lot to do, have a lot going on. So I was recently told that, okay, recently told that, and I want to have this conversation with you because so many of us, we... there's this narrative going on in the world right now, not in the world, in the American world, mostly the American world.

I love America, but sometimes the people not so much. And there's this narrative going on that "Hey, if you get sunlight, if you eat real food, if you exercise, you'll never have heart disease or cancer or any of these things!" And today I'm just going to share my story, my personal story and why I think that's a bunch of bullshit. And not because I think it, because I've experienced it.

So I just wanted... I know we have a lot of new listeners right now, so I want to give you some background on me. So people look at me and look at my photos, but they don't know the whole story. And certainly I'm not going say "Well, back when I was one..." Right? We're not going to go down that road and have that long conversation, year by year, here's the breakdown of my life. We're not going to do that right now, because, yeah, I mean, unless you want to go to bed, unless you need someone to tell you a story to make you go to sleep.

But I do want to tell you this: So, I've been very active my whole life. I only had a period of time where I almost was obese. I was very overweight, borderline obese in my mid thirties. Pulled out of it in my late thirties, actually, no, more like early forties.

And so for the most ..., I've been super..., when I was a kid, I was super active. My dad told me a story, he was just like "Ted,you were just like running around, and you tripped and like fall into some bushes and then you just popped back up and just started running like you didn't skip a beat."

That was me. And even as a teenager, I practiced martial arts. I was super active, riding around my neighborhood. I've done a lot of exercise and have the wear and tear on my joints on my x-rays to prove it.

So I've been active my whole life, but, was I healthy? I mean, certainly healthier than some folks. I started smoking marijuana at about 16 and then from 18 to about 28 or so I was maybe 27, 28. I was smoking almost daily. And when I was a personal trainer in Miami beach, you know, I started as a personal trainer when I was 22 years old. And during my twenties, I trained people who owned clubs in Miami beach.

And I was young, I was extremely handsome. I was, I was a good looking guy at the time. It didn't get me as far as you might think, by the way, communication skills were severely lacking as were business skills. But my point in telling you this is, is like I was going out, I was drinking alcohol, doing Ecstasy or Molly or whatever they're calling it, MDMA, Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine.

So I was doing a lot of things that weren't healthy. I was not sleeping so well. But in all, I've been pretty lean my whole life, exercise my whole life and that makes up for a lot compared to people who haven't even, you know, who don't have the drug use history that I've had. And also, I forgot to add all the alcohol I used to drink as well.

And I tell you this to put some perspective on things to say, I'm not like, my parents didn't raise me like "Son, we're only going to eat grass fed beef, wild caught salmon and organic nuts and fruits and vegetables in this house!". I didn't grow up like that, but I was fairly healthy, healthier than most.

But still I had this polyp growing in my colon that the gastroenterologist - and I saw one of the best guys in Brazil guys, super knowledgeable, he's the one that went on TV, on national TV talking about Chad... Oh, I forgot what his name was, the Black Panther actor, Chad... I want to say Warwick, but I can't remember his last name. Black Panther, Wakanda forever, in case you watched that movie. I'm a big Marvel superhero movie fan, by the way - So he told me "Hey, listen, you were one or two years away from having cancer!”

Because not only did they find a polyp, not only did he find a polyp, he found a "gigante", so a giant polyp. I had a giant polyp growing in my colon. Is this TMI yet? So this is the real talk people. What do you expect when you click on a title that says Real Talk Friday, right? So, but seriously though, we need to have this conversation because part of caring for yourself, isn't just eating healthy foods, isn't exercising, isn't getting good quality sleep, t's not meditating or gratitude journaling, or taking your supplements.

All that stuff is important, but use modern medicine! Okay? Get your regular checkups, get your blood chemistry, get the tests that you need! I was one or two years away from cancer! Oh my Jesus! That would have been a very different life. And let me put some perspective on this for you. Let me tell you the story.

My dad was spectacularly... well he was healthy for a while when he was, Oh gosh, you know, when I was really young. I forget what age he was, but when I was really young, when I was four, three, four, five. He would exercise, he belonged to Bally's, if that's something that you remember. That was, like a health club that was popular in Miami and probably around the US at the time, who played racquetball.

But, then he got spectacularly unhealthy, right? And he married my step-mom, they both were workaholics, they were both alcoholics. So gross. Right?

My dad loved, he was a great cook, fantastic cook, he got me into Asian cuisine, turned me on to Asian cuisine. The first time I had Chinese food, he took me, you know, when I was a young boy he taught me how to eat with chopsticks, had sushi with him, had Thai food in my teens when there was a Thai place in Miami, when that became popular, when I was a teenager.

And, yeah, but he loved to grill his steak. He loved smoked meats, he loved smoking steaks and then cooking them. He had all this, these smoke chips and everything. So he had this lifestyle that... and he drank a lot of alcohol. He ended up getting obese when he was in his forties.

Actually let's back up a little bit. He ended up getting colorectal cancer and he got it at a very young age. I can't remember exactly, maybe 45, something like that, about the same age I am now. I'm 44 and the gastroenterologists said that I was a year or two away from having cancer. It was like, I mean, if you would look at my dad and me and compare us and compare our lifestyle, I mean, the guy was spectacularly unhealthy. So why did I end up that way?

Well, one of the things that doctors have been telling me for a while, but didn't really make a big deal out of it until I moved to Thailand. Actually in 2018, had a doctor say "What? Your dad had colon cancer in his forties? You need to be screened 10 years before, whatever age your dad got colon cancer, you need to have your first colonoscopy, 10 years before that!" And I said "Well, I'm 41 now. So that's not happening!"

And people just been on me since I've been going to doctors, you know, and checking out my health and in the past few years, and I didn't do it right? Because in America it's a lot of money, when we first moved to Thailand, Gisele and I, we weren't doing well financially. That's another story I'll have to tell you some time, because we ended up doing really well, there's a happy ending to it. But we were struggling financially and I just kept putting it off.

And finally, in 2021, after ending up in Brazil and then getting COVID, I finally went and got my colonoscopy and I got it from a guy who is the cream of the crop here in Brazil. Brazil has some great doctors. I mean, I'm sure most countries have great doctors somewhere, but there's some really exceptional doctors in Brazil.

And so I had this colonoscopy finally, and I thought, to be honest, I didn't, I'm like," I am, so healthy. I've been exercising my whole life. I got a little out of shape there, yeah. You know, I had a bit of drug use and definitely was smoking too much marijuana, but come on, I've been pretty healthy!"

And obviously I've got a history of trauma and stress and, you know, surviving these terrible events. But overall I felt pretty confident that it was going to come back clean, I was like, "Oh, I'm just going to do it!" But I had a giant polyp that was a year or two away from getting cancer. What the hell?

And so, I want to tell you that, you know, listen! I have a lot of problems with modern medicine, especially in the States where it becomes more ..., it's super politicized now where it's like masks versus no masks and vaccines versus no vaccines. And you know, I'm not going to get into the, I'm not going to open up that can of worms, but I want to tell you this: the future of healthcare - and I don't mean the business of healthcare, but healthcare for you and healthcare for me - we've got to use everything at our fingertips.

Technology works, folks, science works, folks! It works, it works! Getting tests like stress tests and echocardiograms and having colonoscopies and getting your blood pressure checked and having your blood markers analyzed, it works! Do not skip it! Do not be like me!

And one of the things that this doctor, I forget his name because these Brazilian names, it's not..., I grew up in Miami, there's a lot of Spanish people there, Hispanic people there, is what I should say, not from Spain, but Hispanic from South America, from the Caribbean. But the Brazilian names are very, they can be very strange.
For example, John becomes Joao. And my name, Ted, becomes Ted-g.

So they're kind of tough to remember. So I don't remember his name, but he was just explaining to me that a lot of men don't get their routine checkups.
They don't want, frankly, they don't want things up their butt while they're asleep. Totally understandable. And if I'm honest, one of the reasons why I've been like '"Oh yeah. Do I feel like having a... being put to sleep and having something put up my butt today? No! Right?"

But the thing is we've got to overcome that. We've got to overcome that stupidity, that it's really childlike thinking. Now, I'm not the person that shies away from healthcare or medical doctors or getting tests. In fact, I'm the person that really prefers to go get checked. If I'm having a problem, I want to be checked by an expert, by a professional. But still I had some hesitancy on taking action around this. But I finally got around to it and Whoa! What a difference in my life that it made!

My dad, by the way, just to go back to his story, he had colon cancer. That's the short story. The long story is that he had colon cancer, he didn't go through radiation, didn't need chemotherapy, but he had surgery and they successfully removed it, but they sewed up his anus. And I'm going to tell you the TMI details here, they sewed up his anus and he used a colostomy bag.

They opened up a, I guess it's called a fistula, it's on his abdomen. And he had a bag that was attached to this thing that he'd have to change for the rest of his life until he died at the almost 77 years old. And he had to live his life like that. And it took a huge toll.

And in my dad's defense, he had a terrible lifestyle, but the people of my dad's age, they weren't part of the past generations where... they maintain their weight. You know?
He really was in the obesity, when obesity started to explode and they were making money and eating steak every night and sucking on the fat on the prime, they loved the prime steaks, you know, but prime means it's got more fat in it.

So he loved prime steaks, worked hard, and drank a lot of alcohol. And these are risk factors for colon cancer and very important because, one thing I want to talk about, because people have said - not people like people on Twitter in the comment section, no - doctors have told me "Hey, listen, this is, we're not sure how much of it is genetic, how much of it is the lifestyle that you lead with your dad, but he got it early, you have a high chance of getting it early!" And look at me, I freaking nearly had it!

And I could have been the same way that my dad was. And man, if you know anything about my life, I've had enough bad things happen to me in life, right? Crazy mother who ended up dying in a car accident, was 14, my brother, the kidnapping and murder and all this stuff, you know, a sister committing suicide. Do I really need to be changing a colostomy bag every day? Hell no!

But I was heading that direction and I didn't know it. And the story that I told myself was "Hey, I'm super healthy, I can put it off. I'm super healthy, I'd put it off." Maybe I'm not super healthy, you know, but I'm lean. I've got veins on my abs, at least at that time I did right? I've kind of lost them, but now I'm getting them back, folks, getting them back!

But that's the direction I was heading in because here's the thing now. He explained the names of the different stages of polyp growth, but what he said was "Look, you were, you were like a step away from, there's like four steps and you were a step away from this turning into cancer. Another year or two would have been cancer."

And once it's cancer, what they do is they cut the entire section of your intestine out. And, I'm not clear about the results of the surgery because I obviously don't have to have it, but you know, if it's extensive enough, they don't, you don't get to poop again, as nice as that may sound.
Well, actually, that's not true.... You don't get to use..., you have to do it in a bag through your abdomen. Oh man, I did not! I do not need that! I saw my dad struggle with that at the end of his life. The last, you know, a few months of his life as he began to lose the ability to take care of himself, I mean, just, I won't go into the messes, but that happened.

But, you know, he had an accident one time and I had to pick the poop up off the floor. And I tell you this because, because it's the stuff that people don't talk about, right? They just say "Hey, get your test, get your mammogram, get your colonoscopy, get your … “ you know whatever it is. They don't tell you, nobody's like... I don't believe in using fear all the time. Fear is not, fear drives up stress. But if we're talking about "Hey, listen, go and face this thing, go and figure out if you have this thing or not!" it's so important because we're afraid to know the answer.

But if I would've waited another two years, I would have been telling the story of “Hey, you know, I'm the fitness guy who got colon cancer because my dad had it early” And you know, people have been telling me I was going to have it, I had a high chance of getting it early, but I thought I was super healthy and I got it anyway, because either the genes were there or that we shared enough of a lifestyle that ended up.... right?

Cause my daddy had a ton of smoked meat, a ton of grilled meat. Oh my gosh! I think about all the carnivore people eating all the meat, all the time, and the charred meat all the time. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to get colon cancer, but processed meat and grilling are both associated with the development of colon cancer.

And so let me tell you, I don't eat much meat anymore! And I love a good steak! And I'm in Brazil, I don't know if you've ever been to a Brazilian rodizio, a steak house where it's like: "Would you like more meat? There are eight different types of meat. Would you like some more? You can eat as much meat as you want!" Welcome. Right?

That's how it is in a Brazilian steakhouse. So in this place, and actually Florianopolis, Brazil is quite close to Argentina. As far as Brazilian cities go, at least major Brazilian cities. And there's some great meat down here. There's cowboys down here called “gauchos”, a big part of the culture. It's funny, it's like Texas. Actually, that makes sense now, Texas de Brazil is another Brazilian steakhouse chain, popular in the United States, in case you've never heard of it, Texas de Brazil.

Portuguese is fun. English. Isn't fun to speak. Portuguese is like fun to speak. You know? It's got, it's got so much like energy to it. English I'm super comfortable with but it's like... Anyway, I digress.

But the point is this, get your tests! Don't put them off! You know, one of the reasons why I didn't want to do it too all last year, the COVID, I was planning to do it last year and I put it off because the COVID, but I forced myself to go and do it. And I'm so glad I did it, because it literally saved my life. Right? I would have caught it. I'm not such a knucklehead. I am a knucklehead, I do have a thick skull and I don't do all the right things all the time, but I was planning on doing it. I knew it was important, but yeah, had I waited a bit longer it would have been a very different story.

Let me tell you, I watched my dad for decades deal with that. And that would not be something I want to do! Can you imagine what my dad had to go through or what people with a colostomy bag have to go through?

I mean, I'm single right now. Imagine like you're getting intimate with your new partner. And it's like “Oh, don't mind the bag!” In fact, my dad told me it's like it made intimacy tough with my step-mom.

And the truth is for him, it was a different time, we can't judge them too harshly! But for me, and for you, we live in a time where like people say these things, go get everything checked. All right? Don't think that you can override in particular a genetic disposition to developing cancer, just because you're lean and exercise regularly.

Even though, if you look at what are the risks for getting cancer, sedentary lifestyle is a big one and certainly, your nutrition, being overweight. And so even if you're doing so many of the right things, it may not be enough! And it certainly wasn't in my case.

And so, as I say this, I want to ask you, like, what is something you've been putting off? What is something, a checkup, a test, something that you can schedule now, something you've been putting off coming through the 2020 haze that we've all been in, the post COVID crazy world. We're like “can we just get things back to normal, please?”

What have you been putting off and what can you schedule? What is something you really need to do? You know, "No, I gotta take the kids to practice!" No! Let your kids stay home and play video games for a day while you go take care of yourself!

What is that thing that you need to do for you? It doesn't even have to be a medical test, but something, something that has to do with your health, something that you've been putting off, what is that?

And that is what I want you to attend to folks! Listen! Even the doctors, they..., nobody, I wish a doctor would have sat me down and say "Look, look, you have a high risk of this! I don't care if you're lean and in shape and been in shape for a while, you have a high risk of this! If you don't get this colonoscopy, are you okay with changing your poop bag every day? Are you okay with, when you're going to have sex with your partner or your girlfriend, or whoever that you're, you're... the poop bag, like you're going to have to do with the poop bag while having sex? Are you OK with that? Because that's what's going to happen, if you roll the dice and you come back positive for cancer, that's going to be your life! changing your poop bag!" Because nobody sat me down and had that hard conversation with me.

So I can't sit down with you and have it face to face, but I can sit down and have it with you right now. And it's interesting, this is probably more relevant for men than it is women, because women typically... But of course we can't generalize based on gender. We can make big generalizations, but when it comes down to it, there's certainly some women, I'm sure, that aren't doing what they should be doing for their health.

But it seems to be more... you know, women get together, they get together and you know, the whole breast cancer where the ribbon and breast cancer awareness. Prostate cancer kills more men than breast cancer kills women. But guys, we don't talk about it. We don't want to finger up our butt, we don't want instruments up our butt.

But you've got to get it done! You've got to get it done! You've got to grow up! Being an adult is about getting over those "I don't want to do it! I don't want a doctor doing things to my butt!" Right? You gotta get the fuck over it! You got to man up!

You know, so many of us, we walk around like "Oh, I am a man!" And it's not true. We act like children! And certainly not taking care of your health and then paying a massive price for it, that is childish. It's not smart, it's not emotionally healthy. It doesn't matter how much ass you can kick or how much, how much you can deadlift or any of those things! Okay? If you got something that needs to get done, go do it, go get the test, go, whatever it is!

And again, if you're a woman and you're in that situation, yeah, go get it done! Because the consequence, the fear, the... you know, look! The colonoscopy wasn't, I'll even tell you, I shouldn't tell you this, but I'm going to tell you!

I woke up during my colonoscopy and they had to give me more, they had to give me more. And so I felt like I was getting, I felt like I was... like alien, you know, the alien abduction stories from like 20 or 30 years ago or whatever, like I am in an alien abduction story. Right? That's what it was like. You're like, well, what the hell is going on? Why am I awake? And then they put me, there was an anesthesiologist who put me back to sleep. And they do that on purpose, they just don't want to whack you out with general anesthesia so that you..., you know, I woke up, it was so weird!

Like I woke up finally after it was over and I was fine. It was weird, because I thought I was going to feel really bad after the anesthesia, like “Oh, you're not going to be able to drive. “ Of course, I don't have a car in Brazil and I wouldn't drive. I wouldn't rent a car in Brazil, at least not in Brasilia, just take Uber, but, you know, it wasn't a problem at all! I left and it was over . It was okay, I felt okay.

So, that's the story I got for you. And again, I want to ask you, what is that thing you've been putting off that has to do with your health? That, you know, you got to get that stress test on, you gotta get that mammogram, you got to get that prostate exam and you got to get the colonoscopy, what is that thing? Set that up! Take action on it!

And that's what I want you to do after this episode, start making calls, start doing whatever it is that you need to do. If you struggle with like "Oh, I don't know what doctor", you don’t know how do you search for a good doctor,ask for help, ask for recommendations, ask!

You must have some type of doctor, hopefully ask them for recommendation! Or if you've got friends, ask them for recommendations.

The doctor I found, there's a urologist in Giselle's family, my business partner's family who, I mean, the guy's like a genius, right? He's also very overweight, but when it comes to urology and being a doctor, he's a urologist, he does surgery, just next level smart when it comes to medicine. And he had his, he had this great recommendation for a doctor.

So ask for help if you need it, ask for help to make things happen, but make them happen! This is how you stay healthy and prevent cancer. Do not put things off! You may end up... And I want to tell you this. There might be a point, like I was getting close to, where there is no going back. Once you passed that point of no return, for example, if that polyp that I had, the polyp, if that would have turned into cancer, that's a whole new game! There's no going back from that. It's let's cut out part of your intestine! Okay? And so if you catch it...
Preventive medicine, folks! Do not pass that point of no return! It certainly isn't worth it!

So that's what I've got today! Sorry for the graphic. Actually, I'm not sorry, not sorry, really! I say apologies because I want to kind of soften the blow, but you know what? I'm glad that I didn't pull punches and told you how it is, because sometimes they don't tell us! Sometimes we need someone to tell it to us straight, and that's what I try to do here on Real Talk Fridays.

So thank you so much for listening to this episode today! And if you haven't subscribed, I highly recommend you subscribe!

And I love doing these Real talk Friday episodes. They allow me to go a bit deeper into my story, what I've learned, what I'm going through, maybe what's happening in the world, or, you know, this particular story I shared with you today.

And again, if you've got, if you want to keep the conversation going, I spend a lot of time on Twitter. It's my favorite social media platform. So go and hit me up on Twitter, @ted_ryce.

And stay tuned for Monday where we're going to be talking about the right way to combine cardio and strength training. And it will be with yours truly. It'll just be you and I having a conversation, I'll break down the science.

So if you ever wonder, like what's the right way to put the cardio and the strength training together for the best results you are going to learn way more than you thought, maybe you wanted to!

So that is it for me! Have an amazing weekend. Love you lots, take care of yourself! We deserve the best version of you. And that is certainly we don't get the better version unless you're taking care of yourself! So please do that! Do that for your loved ones, do it for your children, do it for your family, whoever it depends on you, whoever is important in your life. They're depending on you too. Your relationship means a lot to them. So take care of yourself! We need you! We need more people who are operating at a high level, right? We don't need you to be struggling with more than what is already going on!

So that's it for me. Love you lots. Have an amazing weekend and speak to you on Monday!


Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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