Presentations - Umut Unver

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Umut Unver's Presentation

March 14, 2003  

I was in my early teenage years when I was diagnosed with cancer.  From the beginning, I realized quickly that a hospital was very different than a playground, basketball court, or a movie theater.  My friends, who I left behind in my hometown, were replaced with nurses and doctors.  Cancer had profound affects on me.  I understood that life was not about all play and happiness. I was experiencing sorrow, pain, and fear altogether at very young age.  So, I matured much earlier than my peers. As everybody could easily understand, this was a new and difficult life for me.

During my treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, I stayed at Ronald McDonald House for about a year.  I had many chances to meet other teenagers diagnosed with cancer.  This was a very special time for me. There were about twenty of us staying there, and we only had each other and nobody else. I will never forget them as long as I live.

From the day that I arrived to Houston, there were these “angel-like” people of all ages; teenagers, middle aged, and elderly.  They were all there just to comfort people like me, who needed attention, who needed to see smiling faces around, and most importantly, who needed hope.  Volunteers, at least as much as the cancer itself, had a great impact on my life. They became friends with me when I needed help.  And they became role models with what they did, and how they did it, and will remain in my heart for the rest of my life.

I met Yesim Yonter during this chaos in 1994. I do not remember much about her during those days because cancer consumed all my thoughts and basically, my life. I was afraid that I was going to lose my leg to this terrible disease.  I do remember though Yesim Yonter’s sweet, wonderful, comforting words filling my life and telling me not to give up. M.D. Anderson cured me medically, but Yeshim Yonter and her volunteers equipped me emotionally and spiritually. They made me realize that there is a beautiful life after cancer, a life waiting for me. Today, almost nine years later she still helps me to gain my confidence and continue my life with great success.   I owe her my success in my academic career and in my relationships with people around me.  She is always beside me as a friend and a role model in every step of my life.  I have dreamed about attending the University of Texas since my treatment. With the scholarship that I am receiving from the Cancer Survivors’ Fund, I am able to attend the school of my dreams. 

 Now that I am cured and have experienced almost everything in terms of hardships during my treatment, I feel myself responsible for those equipped with nothing but hope when they arrive at the hospital. I want to comfort them and make them understand that they will be okay. Therefore, I have volunteered at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center myself, along with Yesim Yonter and others.

I have a lot of big dreams. I plan to get my Ph.D. in Computer Engineering. I want to convey my experience to younger generations. But my broadest, greatest dream is to become a well-respected man. Thank you, Yeshim Yonter. Thank you, Cancer Survivors’ Fund. And thank you for those of you her tonight for believing in me and showing me the way to reach the sky. A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins. 


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