UAB basketball player beats toughest opponent he’ll face, cancer

UAB basketball player beats toughest opponent he’ll face, cancer
UAB's Luis Hurtado beat cancer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A story of survival, strength and triumph.

UAB basketball player Luis Hurtado is a cancer survivor. He beat it in 2019.

Hurtado, who grew up in Venezuela, started playing basketball at a young age.

His passion for the sport and his skills brought him to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is a student in the Collat School of Business.

In his second year as a Blazer, Hurtado started noticing back pain and intense abdominal discomfort.

Realizing the pain was not just from practicing hard, Hurtado went for testing and soon learned his diagnosis was testicular cancer.

He was in shock. “At this age, it’s like, why is this happening to you? You don’t understand,” said Hurtado. “I just was crying because, at the time, I didn’t know what was going on.”

UAB basketball coach Rob Ehsan remembers thinking through all the possible outcomes and being thankful that Hurtado was at a university with a world-renowned medical center, and home to the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.

“When we found out who the UAB doctors were and what they could do for him and the success rate and how healthy he was,” Ehsan said, “it put a quick ease to our minds and our concerns that, while this was going to be difficult, he was going to get through it.”

From the basketball team to his team of doctors and nurses, everyone involved in his care, including Hurtado, worked tirelessly together to get him well.

“There’s nothing he did to get this cancer. It’s just bad luck, as most cancers are. He has dealt with it head-on, and I hope that it increases awareness for this younger population,” said Mollie deShazo, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

According to deShazo, testicular cancer can be common in younger men, a population that may not be as concerned about their health. She emphasized the importance of Hurtado’s sharing his story to encourage others his age to be aware.

In June of 2019, Hurtado celebrated his last chemotherapy treatment. He worked hard to get back in shape and back on the court.

In Hurtado's first game back, in his first shot attempt, he hit a 3-pointer.

Hurtado said, “The shot goes in, and it’s like, like God has a purpose for me, and I was so thankful for the opportunity.”

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.