A comedian uses laughs (and a positive outlook) to get through cancer

jose squareComedian and actor Jose Ver is known locally for his standup and improv performances that leave audiences in stitches.

But it was no laughing matter when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at 24.

As he comes up on celebrating five years of being cancer free, he’s reflecting on getting sick, getting better and remembering to always laugh about it.

Ver sought medical help after noticing that one of his testicles was swollen. “Think of a golf ball next to a grapefruit,” he said.

At the time, he was a basketball coach. So he assumed the problem was due to the amount of running he was doing while coaching. He went to his doctor, and was then referred to a urologist. He was diagnosed after a blood test.

Not wanting to cause a stir among friends and family, Ver kept the news to himself at first.

After he found out his cancer was stage 2 and treatable, he broke the news to his sister. Since she’s a doctor, he felt she would be the most understanding in the situation. She put him at ease. He recalls the conversation like this: “What type of cancer? What stage? Oh OK, you’ll be fine.”

“Just because you have cancer, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. You can bounce back. It’s just your attitude towards it.”

After the cancerous testicle was removed, Ver faced two rounds of chemotherapy. Each round lasted for three weeks. In the first week, Ver got injections. The second involved clinic treatments. The last one was for him to rest.

After the rounds of chemotherapy were complete, Ver had to schedule routine evaluations with his oncologist. First the visits were every 2 months, then every 4 months, then every six months. Now he visits his oncologist yearly.

Ver said since the surgery, he hasn’t seen a drop in his testosterone levels, but also hasn’t yet undergone fertility tests to see if chemotherapy has permanently affected his sperm. In the meantime, he continues with fertility storage, which he began previous to his treatment.

After he was declared cancer-free, the most important thing for Ver was to return to normality. He makes a few healthier choices now — cutting out snacks and eating balanced meals when possible — but he hasn’t drastically changed his diet or life.

He said the lesson he took from the experience was simple: “Anything can happen at anytime.”

Ver said his advice to others who are just beginning cancer treatment is to “keep your head up.”

“Try to find ways to make yourself laugh. Just because you have cancer, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. You can bounce back,” he said. “It’s just your attitude towards it. I do believe that the body can heal itself from these kinds of things so keep a positive outlook and you’ll make it through.”

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