Tarek El Moussa reflects on a complicated 2017: 'I think I'm a better person than I've ever been'

2017 has been complicated for Tarek El Moussa, but he's finishing the year feeling strong -- and he wants all men to take charge of their lives and health just as he has.

"It's been a good year and a bad year," Tarek told AOL. "I went through a very, very public divorce, which was all over the media, but it was also very good: Co-parenting, my bond with my children is still stronger than ever, still working with [wife] Christina, still filming our show. I've learned a lot about myself. I think I'm a better person than I've ever been."

In addition to suffering a highly-publicized divorce, Tarek revealed this year that he's recovering from a double cancer diagnosis. Fans knew he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013 -- in fact, it was a "Flip Or Flop" viewer who noticed the lump and suggested he see a doctor -- but they were kept in the dark about his simultaneous battle with testicular cancer. Now an ambassador for the Movember Foundation, Tarek is using his platform to urge men to get checked and prioritize what really matters in life.

18 PHOTOS
'Flip or Flop' couple Christina El Moussa and Tarek El Moussa together
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'Flip or Flop' couple Christina El Moussa and Tarek El Moussa together
PASADENA, CA - APRIL 30: TV Personalities Tarek El Moussa (L) and Christina El Moussa (R) attend the press room for the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on April 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
PASADENA, CA - APRIL 30: TV Personalities Tarek El Moussa (L) and Christina El Moussa (R) attend the press room for the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on April 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
PASADENA, CA - APRIL 30: Tarek El Moussa and Christina El Moussa present the award for outstanding entertainment news program at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on April 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Tarek El Moussa and Christina El Moussa attend Tarek and Christina, TV's Favorite House Flippers, Featured at TREND/Stone Source Event in New York on September 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Tarek El Moussa and Christina El Moussa attend Tarek and Christina, TV's Favorite House Flippers, Featured at TREND/Stone Source Event in New York on September 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Tarek El Moussa and Christina El Moussa attend Tarek and Christina, TV's Favorite House Flippers, Featured at TREND/Stone Source Event in New York on September 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 13: Tarek and Christina El Moussa, hosts of HGTV's hit show Flip or Flop, visited the HGTV Santa HQ at Lakewood Center. The reality stars visited with Santa, toured the new digital Santa headquarters and celebrated the holidays with fans on December 13, 2014 in Lakewood, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Lakewood Center)
LAKEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 13: Tarek and Christina El Moussa, hosts of HGTV's hit show Flip or Flop, visited the HGTV Santa HQ at Lakewood Center. The reality stars visited with Santa, toured the new digital Santa headquarters and celebrated the holidays with fans on December 13, 2014 in Lakewood, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Lakewood Center)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 12: Jason Langford, Christina El Moussa & Tarek El Moussa of HGTV's 'Flip or Flop', new North American brand ambassadors, and Jamie Diaz attend the TREND Group and Granite Transformations global rebranding and ?Immense? product collection launch event at Temple House on March 12, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 12: Christina & Tarek El Moussa of HGTVâs âFlip or Flop,â new North American brand attend the TREND Group and Granite Transformations global rebranding and âImmenseâ product collection launch event at Temple House on March 12, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 12: Christina & Tarek El Moussa of HGTV's 'Flip or Flop', new North American brand ambassadors, attend the TREND Group and Granite Transformations global rebranding and âImmenseâ product collection launch event at Temple House on March 12, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 12: Kenya Moore of Bravo's 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta', Christina El Moussa and Tarek El Moussa of HGTV's 'Flip or Flop', new North American brand ambassadors, attend the TREND Group and Granite Transformations global rebranding and ?Immense? product collection launch event at Temple House on March 12, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
TV hosts Tarek El Moussa , right, and his wife Christina El Moussa, second from right, talk during filming of HGTV's 'Flip or Flop' reality TV show as they discuss what to do with this recently purchase house in Whittier on July 19, 2013. The single story 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 1,112 sq. ft home was purchased for $275,000 cash in a short sale. They will put up to $40,000 into fixing it up and hope to sell for $350,00- $400,000. It came with a bonus room. It was discovered the bonus room had a bad foundation and was demolished. They also discovered mold between the walls. (Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 2, 2014: Husband and wife team Tarek,right, and Christina El Moussa help contractor Steve Cederquist pull down a terminate invested trellis in the backyard of a home during the filming of an episode of 'Flip or Flop' on July 2, 2014 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 13: Tarek and Christina El Moussa, hosts of HGTV's hit show Flip or Flop, visited the HGTV Santa HQ at Lakewood Center. The reality stars visited with Santa, toured the new digital Santa headquarters and celebrated the holidays with fans on December 13, 2014 in Lakewood, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Lakewood Center)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 12: Christina El Moussa of HGTV's 'Flip or Flop', new North American brand ambassador, attends the TREND Group and Granite Transformations global rebranding and âImmenseâ product collection launch event at Temple House on March 12, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 12: Christina El Moussa and Tarek El Moussa of HGTV's 'Flip or Flop', new North American brand ambassadors, attend the TREND Group and Granite Transformations global rebranding and âImmenseâ product collection launch event at Temple House on March 12, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
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For Tarek, that prioritizing has led him to a few big lessons. "One, be more present," he said. "Two, take a step back from work. Three, spend as much time with my kids as possible .... and don't sweat the small things."

The HGTV star is encouraging men to not only monitor for existing issues -- testicular cancer is in fact the most common cancer in young men age 15-34 -- but to also hit the gym, start eating right and become overall well. Really, he said, that goes for both men and women.

 

And as he heads into 2018, it's all about moving forward. "After going through such horrific experiences back to back to back to back, now that I'm healthy, I'm just happier than I've ever been," he said.

19 PHOTOS
HGTV stars before they were famous
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HGTV stars before they were famous

"Rehab Addict" star Nicole Curtis during her high school cheerleading days!

(Photo: Facebook)

No one could rock suspenders like Nicole Curtis!

(Photo: Facebook)

"Fixer Upper" stars Chip and Joanna Gaines look just as in love now as they did back then. This is one of the couple's engagement photos from over a decade ago.

(Photo: Instagram)

Ok, Chip Gaines was quite a looker in his younger days. Anyone else agree?

(Photo: Instagram)

And here's another one from Chip and Jo's wedding day. We want more pictures!

(Photo: Instagram)

Stop the cuteness! The "Property Brothers" stars Drew and Jonathan Scott have grown up into such handsome men.

(Photo: Instagram)

Back where it all started! Drew Scott dressed up and looked spiffy for his high school graduation.

(Photo: Instagram)

The Scott brothers with their infamous third sibling, J.D.

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We love Jonathan Scott as a scrawny teenager. We don't think he'd be caught in this outfit these days.

(Photo: Instagram)

Daddy's girl! Here's Genevieve Gorder looking totally adorable before going to "Sesame Street Live" with her dad.

(Photo: Instagram)

Genevieve Gorder, host of "Dear Genevieve," was such a cute 7 year old.

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Carter Oosterhouse, star of "Carter Can," was living his best life in the '70s with some pals.

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"Flip or Flop" star Christina El Moussa looked just as gorgeous in Jr. High!

Sabrina Soto, star of "The High/Low Project," was all smiles with the Easter bunny.

(Photo: Instagram) 

Josh Temple of "House Crashers" rocked some seriously bleached blonde hair in the '90s!

(Photo: Instagram)

Here is "Property Virgins" star Egypt Sherrod at 15 years old rocking a super red ensemble. Talk about a '90s throwback!

(Photo: Getty)

This photo of Scott McGillivray shows less skin (so seriously what's the point?!) but it did have us feeling nostalgic for frosted tips. 

(Photo: Getty)

Wowza! Scott McGillivray from "Income Property" posted this shirtless photo from back in the day -- and it definitely made his followers happy.

(Photo: Instagram)

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