Miami Living Magazine

Elsa Pataky

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Page 44 of 163

Everyone thought he was crazy—his family, his friends, his girlfriend, his doctor. They thought David Octavio Gandell was crazy when he said he knew he was going to live. He was lying in bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital, a mere 124 pounds, no hair on his head, nor eyebrows or lashes. He was stricken with terminal cancer, and was told he didn't have a chance to live. In April, 2006, Gandell was diagnosed with terminal cancer, diagnosed as an immature teratoma, a rare tumor that causes different types of cancers for which there is no cure. Doctors suggested he should go through chemotherapy. "That's when it hit me that I couldn't put my faith in any doctor," Gandell says. "I had to put my faith in God." Against his parents' will and the advice of friends and doctors, he began receiving holistic treatment. This allowed him to carry on with his life plans, doing things he had promised others. His holistic treatments consisted of an injection of 150,000 milligrams of vitamin C as well as other vitamins that are essential for strengthening the immune system. He had a "clean" food regimen that consisted of no fat or grease and lots of vegetables and natural foods, no sugar, and lots of water. He drank protein shakes and completely cut red meat out of his diet. In August, 2006, Gandell's pain became worse. The cancer had gown so much so that his organs couldn't be seen on a CAT scan. Doctors all over the country were called for their input. "They said I was dead," Gandell says, his eyes flooding with tears at the memory. "They said I wouldn't make it through the weekend." After many exams, he started receiving chemotherapy. Gandell woke up after his third round of chemo and made a decision that as soon as his white blood count was normal—"normal" meaning he wouldn't die if he got sick—he was going to start going to the gym. "I had to fight," Gandell says. "I had to do something to get stronger." Meanwhile, the chemo was taking everything out of him, burning his insides. His back was blistered and he felt as if he had fire coming from his eyes. The Gold's Gym in Pompano Beach kept his position open the whole time. Gandell would go into the gym to work out for a little bit, and the rest of the time, he would answer emails and sell memberships. "I would wear my hoodie all the way down to cover my eyebrows so people wouldn't think I was sick, but now that I think about it, I still had no eyelashes, and I was extremely skinny and pale," he says with a smile. "Everyone saw me fighting. They saw I wouldn't let anyone tell me otherwise." On February 1, 2007, Gandell went into a twelve-hour surgery. Every part that was taken out was tested for cancer, and everything came back negative. "When I really realized that I was healed, I knew it was a miracle," Gandell says. In June, 2007, Gandell was back hosting and modeling. He moved to South Beach in November, 2008, to become a partner at the Gold's Gym in South Beach. Gandell feels he has a special purpose in Miami. "Who you are is not how you look, and to have an opportunity to reach people who think like that about themselves is what I hope to do. You don't have to go through something like this to realize how important you are inside and how you can be of value to others." ML MIAMI LIVING 43 MAKING A DIFFERENCE David's Story This model—now a trainer and manager at Gold's Gym South Beach—learned there's more to life than looks when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Words by Rachel Gomez David Gandell, August, 2006. David Gandell today.

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