Three years ago I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. And it turned my life upside down.

I knew there was a history of cancer in my family but it was always one of those things where you think, “That will never happen to me.” But there I was, sitting in the doctor’s office receiving the bad news. I told my doctor I thought something might have been wrong several months before actually going to get a check up. He told me that waiting so long only gave the cancer more of a possibility to spread to other parts of my body. As if I wasn’t scared before, I was now terrified.

The next few months were some of the longest months of my life. It was test, after test, after test, both lab tests and emotional tests.  

We scheduled the surgery to have the tumor removed, but this was only the start. After surgery the real waiting game started while the labs analyzed the tumor. The results began to trickle in slowly and they ranged from good to not so good.

The first call from my doctor was not a positive one : they determined the cancer had evolved into two types. But after another week the great news finally came : the cancer hadn’t spread and was completely removed with the tumor.

Needless to say I was ecstatic. But I still had a decision to make : chemo or no chemo?

Because all traces of cancer had been removed, chemotherapy was not necessary, however it would help decrease the chances of cancer returning. Instead of chemo I chose “Active Surveillance” which meant quarterly CT scans and blood work to make sure the cancer wasn’t returning.

The shock of having to go through something like that really helped me put things into perspective. I understand there was literally nothing that kept my cancer from being much more severe.

It was a scary thought to have, but it was that exact thought that made me truly realize the value of life and how quickly it can all change.

I realized that life was not something to be wasted but instead cherished and lived to the fullest.

I had not been living this way before : I was stuck in a routine due to a false sense of “security” of working a job that I didn’t enjoy just because it kept me financially stable. I convinced myself this route was happiness.

But looking back after my health crisis, I realized that I was not living life to the fullest and that I was not truly happy.

So what did I do? I quit my job. I could no longer stand the thought of putting my passions aside with a “maybe one day” excuse.

Photography had always been a passion of mine, something I had been doing on the side for a couples years. But I never had the courage to pursue it fully. I was scared of the uncertainty that came with working for yourself, especially in a creative field.

But with this new found outlook I no longer had that fear and decided I much rather fail trying than never try at all.

I felt like I had been through it all already and had nothing to lose.

Much to my surprise a bit of success came from committing myself a hundred percent to my passion. I started seeking out clients but soon clients sought me out.

I feel very fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love now.

I was first introduced to LIVE A GREAT STORY about seven months into my new photography career when my buddy Zach and I were at a mutual friend’s BBQ.

Zach started to talk to me about a brand he had been working on and his plans to take it to the next level. As soon as I heard the words “Live A Great Story” it was like fireworks went off in my head. I felt as if everything I had just been through in the past seven months was bottled up into one simple phrase. Needless to say I was instantly on board,

The initial conversation was about helping screen print shirts since I had experience in that but then my role naturally transitioned into the photography for the brand. Now over the past two years my role has evolved into pretty much whatever role needs to be filled from photography, to helping with events to shipping.

The best part of working with LIVE is that it’s a self perpetuating wheel of inspiration : we get to hear people’s inspiring stories from all over the world which in turn inspires us in our own stories and motivates us to build a brand that motivates and inspires others.

For me the ultimate goal is to help the brand be that moment of clarity that helps people decide to not put life on hold anymore and really do what makes them happy.

Ernesto Ortiz

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