Beloved Oakland chef fights cancer diagnosis, community gathers to support him

La Perla owner Jose Ortiz, who fed the Golden State Warriors during the team's 2019 NBA Finals run, was diagnosed with liver cancer

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A beloved Oakland chef is seeing increase support from the community as he undergoes cancer treatment.

Jose Ortiz, aka Cheo, is the chef and owner of La Perla Puerto Rican Cuisine. After living with constant stomach pain, doctors at University of California, San Francisco diagnosed Ortiz with liver cancer upon finding two inoperable tumors.

"I feel much better now that I know what I have. I’ve been dealing with this problem for the past two-and-a-half years," Ortiz said. "I went to many, many doctors and no one could figure out what was wrong with me."

Ortiz, who fed the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Finals, is already undergoing radiation therapy. Though while undergoing treatment, he's had to step back from his duties at La Perla.

According to Gabriel Ortiz, Cheo's son, due to decreased foot traffic caused by crime and piling medical bills, it's becoming hard to make ends meet.

"You hear the news around Oakland, things are hard right now, everything going on it is a lot," Gabriel said. "We are just trying to get support and get my dad through this."

To try to make ends meet, La Perla — which has been around since 2017 — has set up a GoFundMe to help with Ortiz's "medical expenses, daily living costs, and any additional support needed during the recovery and treatment process." Community members have already donated over $5,000.

"The GoFundMe is just a little bit, but I think the most important is to have my father see the support that he has," Gabriel said.

It's a support Cheo said has been fueling his desires to get back into the kitchen.

"They are telling me that I’m not done yet," Ortiz said. "That motivates me to get out this house and keep running towards my goal to finish this and get back to the community."

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