Hill Harper: “I Woke Up And Couldn’t Swallow Anything…”

Actor Hill Harper had many inspirations for his three New York Times best selling books, Letters to a Young Brother, Letters to a Young Sister, and The Conversation. Still, when the CSI: NY and Homeland actor discovered he had thyroid cancer, he found the words to write his fourth and latest book The Wealth Cure: Putting Money In Its Place.

Hill has also put his entrepreneurial hat on since he’s launched a skin care company just for African Americans and he’s purchased downtown Detroit’s Roasting Plant Coffee.

Harper’s plan is to use the coffee roastery and cafe as a platform for his Manifest Your Destiny Foundation that helps underserved youths. He wants to use the Roasting Plant to provide tactical work skills and professional growth opportunities for young people in Detroit.

Harper was born in Iowa City, Iowa, the son of Harry Harper, a psychiatrist, and Marilyn Hill, who was one of the first black practicing anesthesiologists in the United States. He has been acting since the age of 7. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1988. In 1992 Harper graduated with a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School. In addition, he also received his Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

During his years at Harvard, Harper befriended, then, future President Barack Obama. Harper and Obama met on the basketball court and became good friends during their first year as law students.

(Photo credit: twitter.com)

Although Harper earned three Ivy League degrees, he decided to pursue acting and moved to Los Angeles.

An award-winning actor, nabbing three NAACP Image Awards for his role as Dr. Sheldon Hawkes in the CBS-TV drama CSI: NY, Hill Harper discussed how he found out and overcame this deadly disease.

“I woke up and just couldn’t swallow anything,” recalls the actor. “I just knew I didn’t have a cold or strep throat,” Hill says. “I called a friend who is a doctor in Atlanta and after examining me, he ordered an ultrasound and a biopsy that ultimately revealed I had thyroid cancer.”

Hill was told he needed to have his thyroid surgically removed, which meant taking a synthetic thyroid hormone for the rest of his life.

With two Harvard graduate degrees (in law and government), a successful acting career and four best-selling books to his name, Hill always knew he had a lot to be thankful for. Yet the 51-year-old actor admits that the diagnosis gave him a newfound appreciation for life.

“We think we have all the time in the world, but a cancer diagnosis definitely makes you take stock of your own mortality,” says Hill, who lost his father, grandfather and uncle to cancer. “Having cancer made me realize how important it is to…