Local man laughing his way to find cure for cancer
HATTIESBURG, MS. - This week's Kindness In Action is Kent Oliver of Hattiesburg. Oliver was diagnosed with an incurable disease two years ago.
“In October of 2015 I was officially diagnosed with multiple myeloma" said Oliver.
He started Hattiesburg's "Laughs for Life" benefit last year to raise money and find a cure for Multiple Myeloma.
Oliver was only 34 years young when he found out about his diagnosis. Multiple Myeloma happens when a person's plasma cell multiples unusually.
“Things in life was really good, certainly was happy to do a lot of things, but was experiencing a ton of pain" said Oliver.
He assumed the pain was normal growing pains from being a father to two young girls.
“Our youngest doesn’t really know anything about it, but our oldest loves to talk and loves to listen" he said.
Instead Oliver is part of the 25,000 people diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in the United States a year, which is an incurable blood disease.
Oliver said, "You start looking at survival rates, things that you never anticipate."
He added, "Anyone that gets diagnosed, you go through those range of motions, you are shocked, you get angry, you asked why me?”
Oliver said the diagnosis stole joy and laughter from his family. He started Laughs for Life benefit last year. A comedy fundraiser that donates part of the money for Multiple Myeloma research and to local patience care.
Last year he raised nearly $124,000. “We brought in Frank Caliendo and had an amazing night."
"A packed house at the Saenger, and we think we really saw as a community all walks of life coming together for a cause and laughter"he added.
Without his friends and family supporting him through his diagnosis and everyday treatment, he does not think he would be where he is today laughing his way to find a cure.
“Cancer has taught me to appreciate relationships and friendships that’s are absolutely meaningful" he said.
Oliver added, “More importantly the cure is not too far down the path, and I think honestly there is certainly a focus on it, and I think that is something we can all look forward to.”
The second annual Laughs for Life benefit will feature Bill Engvall in August. Oliver said he hopes to raise $150,000 and donate parts of the money to help cure childhood cancer.
To learn more about Hattiesburg Laughs for Life you can click here.