'Dancing with the Stars' Pro Rushed to Surgery for Potentially Fatal Tumor Found in Neck


The 26th season of the hit show Dancing with the Stars is set to air Monday, April 30.

The latest season of the show will feature an all-athlete cast teamed up with professional dancers to compete for the coveted mirrorball trophy.

But just as a few of the pro dancers were finishing up their “Dancing with the Stars: Live!” tour, 23-year-old dancer Alan Bersten suddenly felt sharp pains in his stomach lasting up to a minute.

After a trip to the ER, Alan was told he had high levels of calcium in his blood.
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“At first [the doctors] were like, ‘Oh, it’s probably not a big deal. You’re probably just taking some supplements,’” he said. So he went back on tour and his stomach pains seemed to disappear.

But even though the pain was gone, his mother wasn’t comfortable letting her son brush things off without more testing.

So Alan went back to the doctor for another blood test, and this time, they realized that it wasn’t supplements causing excess calcium in his blood. It was a potentially fatal tumor on one of his parathyroid glands.

“Just the word tumor is so frightening,” Alan said. “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.”

In order to treat the condition, doctors needed to remove the tumor and determine whether or not it was cancerous as soon as possible.

“Unfortunately the only surgery available was on April 11 so my mom quickly was like, ‘You don’t understand, he has to be on Dancing with the Stars. Is there anything we can do?’” Alan said.

Thankfully, doctors were able to schedule a surgery for Alan the following day, giving him ample time to recover before the show began.

“If they didn’t have a surgeon available, I would have had to wait for this season to finish and then do it,” he explained. “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.”

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Alan’s doctors were finished with the surgery in under two hours, and quickly determined that the tumor was benign. After only needing to recover for one week, Alan was back in Los Angeles in time to meet his partner for the show, Olympic figure skater Mirai Nagasu.

“They said it was a miracle that the doctors found it because most people don’t understand they have it until they break a bone or they get kidney stones,” he says. “It was like all of my stars up there in Heaven watching over me.”

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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