Add Louis Gossett Jr.'s name to the growing list of celebrities with a toxic mold story. Not only was he given six months to live at one point, he also fought through kidney and pancreatic cancer. The actor writes about his triumph over death and mold in his newly released memoir, An Actor and a Gentleman.
An interview with 74-year-old Gossett is featured this month on the website Black Voices:
When did you discover you were ill?
About two years ago while I started writing the book. There was toxic mold in my home. My pets were dying and I didn't know why. They were affected first because they were closest to the ground. Then I started to get sick from just sitting on the couch and it prevented me from working. I stayed there long enough for it to really get to me. I was sick but the doctors didn't know what was wrong.
The doctor said, "You really don't have long to live – about six months." Fortunately, I went to a Chinese doctor. He looked at me, ran some tests and said, "You have mold and an infection in your system that I haven't seen in a long time." I started transfusions and massive antibiotics, which takes all of your resistance away. Slowly and surely I started to come to life.
Eventually, the six months I had to live passed by. Then I wound up with cancer of the kidney. They took one kidney out. I kept on fighting and they found cancer in the prostate. I got over that and slowly but surely I started to come to life and today is the best day of my life.
What happened to the house?
I tore down the house and rebuilt it. I treated the wood, that way the mold would not come back. The mold came from mildew beneath the wall-to-wall carpet so I threw that out. There was a slow leak underneath the house over the last 15 years that caused the mold to develop. I had no idea because I was hardly home.
You always look so strong and vibrant in front of the camera, how do you manage that?
It's what saved me, I guess. You saw the results of the mold illness when I filmed 'Jasper', 'Texas' and 'Lackawanna Blues.' I was getting old real quick. The uphill is when you see me in 'Why Did I get Married, Too.' Other than that, I was able to mask it.
So the mold was attacking you for a long period of time?
Yes, I just didn't know it.
To read the interview in its entirety, click here.