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Is Laughter The Best Medicine? Chicago Cancer Patient Thinks So

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Miles Austrevich (left) and his father Len at the Laugh Factory in Chicago, for a 30-hour Joke-A-Thon, part of an effort to collect 5,000 jokes to keep Miles laughing when he goes through a three- to six-month treatment for brain cancer. (Credit: Lisa Fielding, WBBM)

Miles Austrevich (left) and his father Len at the Laugh Factory in Chicago, for a 30-hour Joke-A-Thon, part of an effort to collect 5,000 jokes to keep Miles laughing when he goes through a three- to six-month treatment for brain cancer. (Credit: Lisa Fielding, WBBM)

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UPDATED 04/25/12 5:59 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – If Miles Austrevich can find a reason to laugh, so can we all. The young man from Chicago is fighting brain cancer for the fourth time and his dad has been asking people to donate a few minutes of their time to tell miles a joke or two.

Len Austrevich’s goal is to collect 5,000 jokes, so Miles can watch them all during his treatment and recovery.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports the Laugh Factory in Lakeview held a joke-a-thon Tuesday to help Len reach that goal.

The lineup at the infamous comedy club was a bit different Tuesday night.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

“Why was Tigger looking in the toilet? He was looking for Pooh!” one young comedian quipped on stage Tuesday afternoon.

“So Miles is battling this cancer, and he is going through a rough stint in a couple weeks, where he’s going out to Los Angeles, and he’ll be in isolation for three to six months,” Len Austrevich said Tuesday.

Miles, 19, will be undergoing a tandem stem cell transplant next month. The procedure entails harvesting some of his stem cells, undergoing a high dosage chemotherapy treatment, then injecting those harvested stem cells to boost his immune system.

This is Miles’ fourth time being diagnosed with brain cancer.

“It just keeps on coming back,” Miles said with a smile on Tuesday.

Smiling – and laughing – is how he’s chosen to cope.

“If you can have a sense of humor about the situation, it gives you power over the situation,” he said.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, Len is no stranger to making people laugh. He started off as a standup comic and used to own a comedy club.

“My dad has always been a big jokester. Humor has also been a big part of my relationship with my mom too,” Miles said.

Now, Len is recruiting other comedians to help his son.

The Laugh Factory opened its doors for 30 hours to allow people to do a bit or tell a joke, which will be recorded for Miles to watch while he’s in isolation during his treatment later this year.

Amateur comedian Joe Goehl was one of those who took the stage Tuesday. He said he didn’t prepare any material.

“I just walked in and, yeah, alright let’s do it,” he said. “It seemed like for a good cause, why not get involved?”

Among the jokes amateur comedians offered up on Tuesday:

“What do you get when you mix an elephant and a rhino?” El-if-i-no

“What do ducks eat?” Quackers!

Seven-year-old cancer patient and amateur comedienne “Rock Star” Rosie knows what Miles is going through all too well.

“He’s on his fourth round of chemo and I’ve done like three rounds; and I met him at brain tumor camp,” she said.

It’s heavy stuff for the two kids, who both have chosen to laugh and live.

While the comedians who took the stage on Tuesday aren’t exactly Bill Murray, Robin Williams, or the Marx Brothers, they are exactly what the doctor ordered.

Miles says he has already taped jokes from his classmates, and he even has messages from his favorite comedians like Bill Murray, Jay Leno and Amy Poehler.

“We’d also like to do this for other kids going through the same thing as Miles. It doesn’t take money it just takes a joke to make a difference,” Len said.

Miles said he thinks laughter is the best medicine.

The Joke-A-Thon runs through 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Laugh Factory at 3175 N. Broadway. If you can’t make it out, you can still contribute a joke to Miles’ collection. Just record it on your own camera or smartphone and upload it to his website, Jokes4Miles.com

Jokes should be clean and ideally a minute or less to deliver.

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