K-pop idol Nam Woo-hyun opened up about his rare cancer diagnosis, and how it changed his life following his recovery.
Recalling his life-changing battle with the disease, the 32-year-old artist revealed that he underwent surgery in April for his gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) diagnosis—a cancer in the digestive system, considered rare for people under 40.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, some symptoms include a decrease in appetite, stomach pain, vomiting, bleeding or signs of intestinal obstruction, early satiety, and more. Unlike other cancer type, most cases of this disease are non-inherited.
"In my case, the urgency of surgery was non-negotiable, so I quickly held my fan events and performances in January and February before undergoing surgery," he shared in his interview with local media The Korea Times.
The Hold On Me singer went on to say that he initially did not realize the severity of his condition until after his surgery.
"I had to refrain from drinking water for almost three weeks and got a 20-centimeter scar on my stomach. I even had to attach a blood bag,” he revealed.
In case you missed it, Nam Woo-hyun last visited the Philippines in May—just a month after his surgery—as he was among the performers during the coronation night of Miss Universe Philippines 2023.
Looking back, the K-pop idol couldn’t be more grateful for his parents and the nurses who served as his support system during his grueling battle. He said that they helped him get back on his feet and pursue his passion as a singer.
He also noted how the journey helped him have a “deep” and “mature” perspective in life, which is reflected in his music.
"I feel as if I were reborn after the surgery," he mused. "My thoughts have deepened and I've achieved musical maturity,” he added. Woo-hyun also admitted that he can no longer perform as he used to due to breathing problems.
"My doctor told me that I might not be able to regain my past singing ability," he revealed. "My musical journey has become four to five times more challenging as I currently suffer from breathing problems when I perform.”
He recently released his solo album dubbed Whitree, his first one after his debut in 2016.
“For those who are facing hardships in their lives, I hope my music can serve as a source of courage, inspiring them to overcome challenges like I did,” he said.
Nam Woo-hyun is part of INFINITE—a Korean boy group that consists of Woo-hyun, Kim Sung-kyu, DongWoo, Lee Sung-yeol, L, and Lee Sung-jong. They debuted in 2010 with a mini album dubbed First Invasion.
He made his solo debut in 2016. He's best known for his hit songs like Hold On Me, drama OST Shooting Stars, and Calm & Passion.