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Leukemia & Lymphoma

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Rap Star Nelly: Fitness, Fatherhood, and a Health Foundation

How the chart-topping musician stays healthy while balancing career, family, and advocating for bone marrow donations.

What did you learn from your sister's illness?

That you can live your life as a quote-unquote healthy person and have it all suddenly taken away from you. All that you took for granted, all the obvious, everyday things, they become so much more important.

Sadly, cancer is a part of life for many families. What helped you and your family when your sister was sick?

As a family, you need to stay strong as a unit. The best medicine outside of a cure is the love of your loved ones. It was my sister who was sick. I can only imagine it as a lonely scenario. You can't take away the pain, but you can make them as comfortable as possible. Keep positive, it's the only thing you can do.

You're now 36. With so much to do, how do you stay fit?

I came up in sports, so being active -- the physical aspect of things -- it's always been there for me. As you get older, you want the odds in your favor, so you watch what you eat and work out a lot more. You start realizing the weight hangs around longer. The older you get, the more self-conscious you should get about your health.

Do you have a regular workout?

If I'm not in album-making mode, I work out five times a week. In album mode, it's rough finding the time. But I always play basketball. Basketball is the best for cardio. It's better than a treadmill, better than running. It's about fun and cardio and hooping with the boys. You release stress; you channel your stress into the game.

What's your best health habit?

My best health habit is going to the gym, even when there are a million excuses not to go.

What's your worst health habit?

My eating habits. I can get away with a lot because I've been blessed with a great metabolism. As a kid, I was skinny. I only got large from lifting weights. I know it gets harder to keep off the weight as you get older, but as a child I always needed to gain weight.

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