I was first diagnosed with Sarcoma when I was 26 years old. I felt a tumour in my left leg when I was taking a shower. I would never have thought that I had cancer. I thought it was a regular lump, but when I went to the doctor, he checked it and sent me to a specialist who told me that I had cancer.
Except for one of my uncles, no one else in the family had ever had cancer. And even the type of cancer he had was unrelated to mine, so I believe there was no family history that would have contributed to the disease.
My initial reaction to the news
I was in Istanbul when I came to know that I had cancer, and initially, I was very scared because I was in a foreign country away from my family and friends. I had no one to talk to, and the news made me feel terrified and horrible. No one wants to hear that they have cancer at such a young age, and I was very scared of dying.
But with the support of my doctor, I was able to accept it, and I understood that I needed to be the strongest and most positive version of myself because my fears and negativity would only feed the disease more. So I learned to be more positive and stop fighting the process.
Treatments I underwent
I was in the last stage of my cancer, and the doctor told me that I had no chance of living and that I was dying. So it was crucial for me to start treatment as soon as possible. I went through radiotherapy for six weeks and had five sessions a week. I had to stay at the hospital for radiotherapy, and after it got over, I was sent home for two weeks to rest, after which I had surgery to extract the tumour.
The doctors took some tests after the surgery and were surprised by the results. The results showed that I was actually responding to the treatment and recovering. The doctors told me that it was a miracle and that I was healed and cancer free.
Even though I was healed, the doctors suggested that I take chemotherapy as a preventive measure. The chemotherapy sessions were really hard on me, and my body reacted very badly to them. I lost all my hair and was vomiting all the time. I could not eat anything, and it impacted my health.
My mental and emotional well-being during the treatment
One main thing that helped me manage my emotions was the psychologist whom I was seeing while I was in the hospital. She really helped me manage my emotions. Apart from that, my parents came and stayed with me in Turkey and took excellent care of me, and many of my friends visited me during the treatment process.
Having people around me who cared for me really made me hopeful and gave me the strength to fight the disease.
Things that helped me fight through cancer
The first thing I would say that helped me through the treatment was my friends. They were always there with me, and I was not alone even for a single day. They distracted me from the whole thing and made it feel like normal, regular days at the hospital.
I also completely changed my diet. I only had vegetables with no oil or salt. I completely cut off sugar from my diet and drank a lot of carrot and onion juice. These dietary changes really helped me a lot. I would strongly recommend cancer patients to try onion juice because it helps.
Changes in lifestyle during and after cancer
The significant changes I made were in my diet. I started eating a lot of vegetables and only used olive oil for cooking. I completely stopped eating sugar and meat and became a vegetarian.
I am also going to the gym five days a week now. I lost my leg and found myself in a wheelchair after cancer, but I knew that I couldn’t stop there, so I found the motivation to start working on myself.
My top three learnings from the cancer journey
I have come to understand that life is precious, and we should stop being sad and depressed about small stupid things. We see so many people worried about really insignificant things, and I have learnt that life is too precious for that. I am trying to enjoy every moment of my life because time and energy are very important.
I have learnt to take better care of myself. I was a sports person, but I was also smoking and not watching what I ate. Now I am more conscious about what I put in my body and am taking better care of myself financially, physically and emotionally.
I have gone back to finishing things that I started in the past and didn’t complete. I have more courage and willpower than I did before I had cancer. I am doing some things better than I did with two legs. Every day is a challenge, and I celebrate myself for accomplishing even the small things in life.
My message to cancer patients and caregivers
Take cancer as a simple sickness, and don’t be afraid of it. Face the disease boldly because I believe that facing a problem will give you the solution to it, so facing the illness will provide you with the strength and motivation to fight through it. Stay positive and strong because being the strongest version of yourself will help you fight it better.
Watch what you eat. Your diet defines who you are and how well you can fight the disease, so the better you eat, the better you can heal.