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Monday 21st May 2018

'DWTS' Pro Admits to Having Surgery for Potentially Fatal Condition

It was completely unexpected.

Alan Bersten never expected to hear the word tumor at age 23.

While taking part in the Dancing With the Stars: Live! tour, the professional dancer found himself getting checked out for intense stomach pains.

Although it was initially diagnosed as a high level of calcium in the blood, a return to the doctor led Bersten to find out he had a tumor on one of his parathyroid glans.

To treat what is known as hyperparathyroidism, the next step would be to remove the tumor to make sure it was benign, meaning not cancerous, instead of malignant, or cancerous.

"Just the word tumor is so frightening,” Bersten told PEOPLE.

"I didn’t know what malignant or benign meant until I looked it up and I was like, ‘Well hopefully it’s benign — God forbid I have cancer.’ That is more stress than I could ever imagine. I think the scariest part was not knowing."

With the big DWTS season 26 cast reveal coming up, Bersten was unsure how'd he find time to squeeze in surgery.

Thanks to some understanding medical professionals, he was able to get in for a procedure and make it back to Good Morning America for April 13.

"If they didn’t have a surgeon available, I would have had to wait for this season to finish and then do it," Bersten said.

"I would be so in my head about it, I would be scared. So I got very lucky that they had time and that I was able to recover in time for the season."

The surgery took two hours for doctors to remove the tumor, which happened to be benign. With just a week's worth of recovery after that, Bersten set out to meet partner Mirai Nagasu and continue living his life as if nothing had happened.

"I met my partner Mirai [Nagasu], and it was like a new life," he said. "I’m so lucky that everything went so well for me, and I got a partner like Mirai."

At first, Bersten was self-conscious of the new mark on his neck left from the procedure. After sporting turtlenecks "for the first two weeks" of his recovery, he realized there was no need to be ashamed of the scar.

"I see the scar now and I’m like, ‘You know what? It’s kind of cool,'" he said. "I survived it."