Reality television is a double-edged sword. While it does continue to flood our minds and television with ratchet actions of celebrities and their respective entourages, it can also tie you an inside look at the struggles of everyday people who happen to have a little recognition. Such is the case in the life of former reality star Ahmad “Real” Givens.
The former “I Love New York” contestant was popular for his luxurious perm which is rivaled only by Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire. He and his brother Chance lost the show, but continued to work on their various entertainment projects including their album, radio show, and spin-off reality shows until he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. After being diagnosed, Givens was given two weeks to live and that was more than a year ago.
Ahmad Givens has continued to beat the odds. After having surgery to remove all of the cancerous cells that spread from his colon to his liver, Givens found out he had a brain tumor. The tumor in his brain hasn’t slowed his recovery down. Givens says through changing his diet, eating habits, and keeping a positive attitude, he has been able to triumph over cancer. He is currently in the process of trying to get a reality show documenting his road to recovery off the ground.
The Urban Daily caught up with Ahmad Givens via telephone directly after one of his doctors appointments to discuss his battle with cancer, how he maintained his sanity through the whole ordeal and how he wants to help other people battling cancer.
When did you first find out you had cancer? What was the indication that you should go to the doctor in the first place?
This was last year. It was January seventh, the day before my birthday. I went out to an outdoor event and I got sick. When my brother an I were traveling home, I remember telling him I felt like I was coming down with the flu or something. After that day, I never got any better.
I went and saw three different doctors and they all misdiagnosed me. One told me I had hepatitis A. Another told me I might have mono. One told me I might have the Norovirus. But what made me check into the ER is the last doctor who misdiagnosed me gave me antibiotics. The antibiotics gave me chronic diarrhea and I dropped like thirty pounds in two weeks.
I checked myself into the hospital March 14, 2013 and march 15, 2013 is when the doctor came in crying and I knew something was seriously wrong.
She said, “I have bad news to tell you. You have cancer. You have stage four colon cancer.”
She was crying to the point she had to send in another doctor to finish telling me. He was an Asian doctor and I wanted to karate kick his face in because everything was from with him. He told me, “You don’t have that much longer to live. You have about two weeks to live. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do for you.” After that he just walked out. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like a dream.
What was harder to deal with when you first found out? Was it learning that you had stage four colon cancer or the fact that doctors gave you two weeks to live?
It was more shocking to me that they said I had stage four colon cancer. I was thinking, “This can’t be right. I was misdiagnosed three times before. This has to be another misdiagnosed thing.” It just didn’t seem real. When the doctor told me I had two weeks to live, I didn’t believe him. It just flew over my head. I mean I heard what he said but I was still trying to cope with the fact I had stage four colon cancer because I know that’s the last stage. I has so many questions I tried to answer in my head and I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
How difficult was it for you to have to tell your family?
Well, my mom was with me the whole time so she heard it all the same time I did. The hardest part was calling my wife and telling her. I had to call her and tell her at like four or five in the morning. She was in disbelief as well. Besides my wife, it was hardest telling my brother Kamal (Chance) because I know how bad his anxiety is. Lo and behold, when I told him, his anxiety was off the chain. He was so bad we thought we were going to have to hospitalize him. How do you tell everybody you have cancer when you just seemed to be doing okay a little bit ago.