Hill Harper was in Atlanta last summer, in the midst of shooting Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” when he woke up one morning, unable to swallow. A subsequent appointment with a doctor revealed a sobering diagnosis: thyroid cancer.
The 45-year-old actor and author revealed his illness in an interview with NewsOne to discuss his new book, “The Wealth Cure.”
“I started by talking about my own personal journey,” Harper said. “That’s the cure side of the book.”
“The Wealth Cure” grew out of Harper’s work to cultivate financial literacy with his Manifest Your Destiny Foundation.
“I started to see [people] would use money as an excuse for not living the the best version of their lives,” Harper recalled. “‘I really want to do this andI cant afford it.’ That’s when a light bulb came on.”
Harper says that he realized that people could use the same five-step process to cure their financial ills that he was using to fight his cancer, beginning with diagnosis, treatment plan, compliance with that plan, and maintenance.
“The last step is to thrive,” Harper said.
One of the practical tips Harper puts forth is the distinction between “smart money” and “dumb money.”
Harper explains: “Smart money is when you have $1 before you go to sleep. Your head hits the pillow, and when you wake up, it’s worth more or the same.”
“Dumb money is when you wake up and that money you’ve spent on something is worth less. When we’re spending 40 cents of every dollar to service our debt, that’s dumb money.”
Credit card debt is the dumbest money, Harper says, because it is a “double whammy” of dumb, because most people are paying interest on goods that depreciate.
“You can’t be free if the cost of being you is too high.”
Harper completed the book while going through his treatment, which included the removal of his thyroid gland.
Harper says that one of the most difficult aspects of being the cancer diagnosis was that many men in his family had died from the disease.
“My father, my uncle, my grandfather,” Harper said. “But I believe that we don’t have to relive the fate of our forebears. I didn’t want to repeat that.”
Harper now jokes about his surgery (“I don’t have any metabolism, so if I blow up like the girl in ‘Willy Wonka,’ that’s why”), but says that he’s doing well, and is now monitoring his condition to assure that the cancer didn’t spread.
“I feel like I’m gonna live long, healthy and happy,” Harper says. “I just claim it that I’ve been cured.”