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Port Arthur star opens up about battle with cancer

Port Arthur native Gary “With Da Tea” Hayes enters his fifth season on the show “Rickey Smiley For Real,” which airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday on TV One.

The one-hour docu-series follows Smiley through professional and personal ups and downs.

Hayes said the show will talk about his battle with colon cancer.

“It was hard and it wasn’t hard at the same time,” Hayes said. “Luckily, I had my faith and family to help me get through it.”

The class of 1983 Thomas Jefferson graduate said comedy and being around other funny people was helpful during his fight with cancer, but it was having a hometown friend battling cancer, too, which helped him push through.

“My friend was going through prostate cancer at the same time,” Hayes said. “Just having someone else to look at that was dealing with it helped. I knew if he could make it, I could make it.”

Hayes said he never missed a day of work while receiving treatment and had a chemotherapy pump installed and had regular radiation treatments before ultimately winning his battle to become cancer free.

Hayes began his career after he moved to Dallas and got on the Russ Parr Morning Show as a frequent call-in listener to co-host. From there, Hayes joined the Steve Harvey Show before ending up in Atlanta on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show.