Taboo on How His 'Inner Warrior' Helped Him Through His Battle With Cancer
After releasing six acclaimed albums and embarking on several treks around the world with mega pop group Black Eyed Peas, Taboo’s toughest challenge was stomaching the heart-shattering news that he’d been diagnosed with cancer.
"I felt shocked, I felt confused and the first thing I thought about was my kids,” Taboo told Billboard about receiving his diagnosis in 2014. "The first thing that came to mind my was, 'Am I gonna live to see my kids grow up'?"
Taboo admits he was perplexed by the revelation, mainly because he believed he was "healthiest and more fit than I’ve ever been in my life in 2014" and feared for not only his life but the impact his sickness would have on his sons (Joshua, 23, Jimmy, 7, and Journey, 5) and wife Jaymie. The 41-year-old artist (born Jaime Luis Gomez) immediately went into "fight mode" and began his chemotherapy.
Throughout the "psychologically traumatic" experience, he says, he transformed into a sports enthusiast, looking to sports documentaries and ESPN as a diversion from his illness and inspiration to persevere. “I saw Jimmy Valvano’s story [Survive and Advance], Jim Kelly’s story -- he was a cancer survivor as well," Taboo continued. "I tapped into sports more than I have ever done before and it helped me through my chemo run because it took my mind away from the experience. It was ESPN, it was 30 For 30, it was Stuart Scott and the ESPYs -- those things really helped me out.” He endured 12 weeks of chemotherapy and in 2015 was declared in remission.
As Taboo pushed through his recovery, another life-changing event took place. After doctors told him that another child for him and his wife was out the picture, the couple still tried and welcomed a baby girl, their third child, earlier this year. “[My wife] was very positive and very supportive and she said ‘if this was meant to be, then it’s gonna happen’," he recalls. Shortly after his last chemo session, he found out that his wife was pregnant. “I call her my miracle baby.”
Since overcoming the illness and welcoming his new daughter into the world, Taboo is ready to encourage those going through personal obstacles and channeled his energy into the powerful, uplifting anthem "The Fight." He penned the track during his chemotherapy with the help from his close friends Karlina Covington, who laid down the melody, and Joshua Alvarez, who helped write the song’s verses.
"The song itself is a vehicle to give people comfort, hope and inspiration,” he explains. "The fight can be anything, it doesn’t have to be cancer. It can be relationships or any obstacle to get over.”
Taboo continues to use his platform as a vehicle of empowerment and even partnered with the American Cancer Society as their global ambassador to help raise awareness and funds to support cancer research. He participated in multiple programs for ACS including Relay for Life and Hope Lodge.
Without skipping a beat, the cancer survivor is also gearing up for his musical comeback and revealed that he teamed up with actress Shailene Woodley to record a song in honor of the Standing Rock protest -- a movement in opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion business project that will transport large supplies of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois -- which touches close to home for Taboo, who is of Native American descent. He even teased that he's been hard at work for a forthcoming Black Eyed Peas album, which he says will arrive next year.
For now, he's relishing in his biggest victory. "When it came to a life-threatening disease, I didn’t know how resilient I would be,” he says. "Mentally, physically -- I didn’t know how much strength I had in myself. I have this inner warrior spirit that said, 'This disease isn’t gonna take me. I’m gonna be in this fight. I’m gonna be in this battle and I’m gonna win.”