Jeff Ber, Calgary

Interview with Jeff Ber, Cancer Survivor

in Opinion by

Jeff Ber is a former senior investment advisor turned competitive athlete who is dedicated to inspire those who struggle with cancer. Being a cancer survivor himself, Ber shares his story to convince others that even with extremely low odds, the disease can be beaten. He competes in athletic events, donates to charities, and volunteers, all with the hopes of inspiring those who are fighting their battles with cancer.

A few years ago Ber was diagnosed with terminal testicular cancer. He had been a Senior Investment Advisor with TD Wealth Private Investment Advice and before that a Wealth Adviser with Scotia McLeod and a Senior Financial Advisor with CIBC, in Calgary, Canada. Ber underwent the majority of his treatments in Canada, though he traveled to the United States for certain surgical procedures. He worked with many doctors in both Canada and the US, including Dr. Nichols, who also served as Lance Armstrong’s Oncologist.

Ber remained in hospitals for nearly two years while being treated; there he endured chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, and four major surgeries. All the while, he received an incredible amount of support from his mother, father, and two sisters. With strong family bonds and an innate drive to succeed at all he does, Ber won his battle with cancer and took it upon himself to return to an active life to show others what was possible. Although his chemotherapy treatments included the use of bleomycin, which is a chemical agent that damages the lungs, Ber challenged himself to return to a physically demanding lifestyle. His favorites of these activities include cycling and running. Ber participated and won the One-Cycle Spin Studio’s 40 Day Challenge. He also placed 17 out of 167 runners in the 10km Race for Alzheimer’s. Ber hopes that these accomplishments show others that you can not only beat cancer but thrive as a survivor.

What is something that gives you joy in life?

I love competing. That can be against others, but mostly I love to compete with myself. I am constantly pushing my limits to see where I can improve. It gives me a sense of purpose, and I feel that purpose and happiness are one and the same.

What is one thing that makes you unique?

I think my positive outlook sets me apart from others. There is so much negativity in the world that it becomes almost normal. I like to demonstrate to people that there is another way to be. I am a true believer in practicing mindfulness by being fully present and aware of the life I live.

How do you motivate yourself to overcome challenges?

When I lived in hospitals for nearly two years, I learned that motivation is an inside job. You have to know yourself and discover what makes you tick. You have to be able to ask yourself simple questions, like “what do you really want?” I now spend time on self-reflection often, and that keeps me motivated every day.

What is your favorite quote?

A quote that is reflective of my journey to physical recovery is “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: You haven’t.” It resonated well with me as I was met with various limitations, yet I made the decision not to let boundaries navigate me off course when it came to improving my physical health. Despite my physician’s diagnosis I began to incorporate physical activity into my daily schedule. I set realistic fitness goals for myself and am now both physically and mentally stronger for it.

How did surviving cancer change your outlook on life?

Surviving cancer showed me that I should never accept the limits that others put onto me. While undergoing treatment, various doctors told me what to expect from life after my treatment. Due to my chemotherapy regimens, they advised that I should not expect to return to the same activity and competition levels I was accustomed to before my diagnosis. I was determined not to accept any limitations except my own. It was a powerful realization because of how applicable it is to all facets of life. What other restrictions have I been accepting because someone else said it was true? That question opened up many doors for me and changed my outlook on my career, my finances, and my relationships.

What is one habit that you have that you think has contributed to your success?

Developing a routine behavior can be a difficult task, but adopting positive habits can have a tremendous impact on personal success. I take an assertive approach to my daily tasks and confidently tell myself “today is going to be a successful day” as I continually seek new opportunities. I used my struggles with cancer as a source of strength and climbed my way to success, and I want others to see that so they might be inspired to do the same.

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