Fresh off his fourth professional MMA victory at Hard Knocks 49, Keegan Oliver proudly thanked everyone in his corner, including a very special group of supporters.
“Everybody from the cancer foundation (Believe in the Gold) who gave me some big support. I’m glad I can support them too,” Oliver told the crowd. “I know what all those kids are going through, right on.”
He most certainly does.
Oliver is a two-time cancer survivor.
“When I was two, I was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma – a form of cancer in your lower abdomen and kidney area. So I have one functioning kidney because of it,” he said.
He beat it once, but the cancer returned when he was five. He beat it again. It’s now been in remission for 22 years.
“Most kids were out playing. I couldn’t do that, I had to go to the hospital. When you’re younger it doesn’t make sense. You’re like, ‘Why am I in this room?'”
Now, against all odds, Oliver is making a name for himself as a professional boxer and MMA fighter.
“When I was 12, I was young, they said, ‘Ah, maybe don’t do contact sports. You had a collapsed lung when you were younger. Maybe you won’t be able to keep up.’ In my mind, I was like, ‘Ah that’s nothing man,'” Oliver said.
He’s also an inspiration to any child going through the same thing.
“It gives them hope too, you know? You might be hooked up to tubes now and getting needles every day, but you can definitely come through that… and do whatever you want,” he said.
This weekend Oliver is fighting Joel Morin in a Dekada Premier Fight night bout Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Genesis Centre in Calgary. Oliver is donating his entire fight purse to Believe in the Gold – a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to fighting childhood cancer.
“Him doing that shows us that he’s fought it already and he gets it and the compassion in his heart has grown from his fight,” said Believe in the Gold founder Shonalie Biafore-Stadnyk.
“There’s a few of Calgary’s children that are fighting cancer right now that really look up to him and think he is just so amazing… Just to be around him makes them shine,” she added.
“You have to be there physically to see these kids and their reaction, to capture it best,” said Rob Siroishka, chair for Run for Childhood Cancer.
“Keegan brings a spirit that my fight will go on and there is success at the end of it.”
If you’re interested in attending the fight, tickets are available here.