"I was blessed," Lucas said. "There were a couple of times where I told my wife, 'Get the hell out, I don't even want to see you. Take the kids. Bounce.' And she didn't leave. She's always been there. My kids have always been there, and so have my parents and my friends."
The first step to recovery came when he sought out Pain Alternatives, Solutions and Treatments (PAST), a New Jersey medical group that performed neck surgery on him in 2010. A few months later, Lucas headed to drug rehab in West Palm Beach, Fla., and chronicled the experience on Facebook while gaining thousands of well-wishing fans in the process.
"During the first five days of detox, I wished I had driven off the George Washington Bridge," he said. "That was hell that I can't even put into words, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But every day after the fifth day, I got better and I wanted to keep getting better."
He did just that, eventually returning home to his family and to the television job he loved. Lucas knows if he'll have a bad day as soon as he wakes up, but refuses to give in to the temptation of painkillers.
"This disease is a cunning disease," Lucas said. "I'd be lying to you if I told you that if I have a bad day my mind doesn't wander and say: 'Hey, listen, man. You can take two. You'll be OK.'"
He shuts out those thoughts by going swimming or getting a massage. The conversations with Cecilia help a lot, too, and listening to his kids talk about school — and all those other moments he missed out on for so long.
"Back then, I wasn't even sitting at the table," Lucas said. "People ask if I'm embarrassed or they say, 'Why do you speak on TV? Don't you think people are going to judge you?' I don't really care because I am a survivor. I am a soldier. I made it to this point and now I'm trying to help others and give the gift I received back."
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