Presentations - Yeshim Yonter

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Yeshim Yonter's Presentation

March 14, 2003

Thank you every one here for showing your emotional and financial support for cancer survivors.

People come to our lives for a reason. Some stay for a season, some stay for a lifetime. Dr. Cangir came into my life 26 years ago and stayed for a lifetime as a friend, mentor, and role model. She is the pioneer of pediatric oncology at M.D. Anderson and a legend in her own time. Not only is she a great scholar and well-known professor, but she is also a born psychologist. I am so very pleased to tell you that Dr. Cangir is here with us tonight. Dr. Cangir, would you please stand up? Thank you for joining us.

In 1991 when I started to do volunteer work at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, it was a difficult and painful learning process. One day, in tears, I asked Dr. Cangir, “How do I learn not to get hurt with all the sufferings of children around us? How do I get used to it?” She said, “After this many years, I still feel the pain right here, but you have got to learn to live with it.”

The pain and discomfort of children provoke me to make a difference in their shattered lives. I want to bring hope to their hearts and I do so by challenging them to make plans for their futures.

In 1994, during earlier years of my volunteer work, I met a 16-year-old basketball star. He was a sarcoma patient, suffering both physically and emotionally. His doctors at M.D. Anderson, the #1 cancer hospital in the world, told him that there was a good chance that he would loose his leg. He asked himself, “Why me? Not only am I losing my leg, but I also have hopes for the future, and a strong desire to be an engineer. What did I do to deserve this?” His father, mother, and sister moved to Houston to support him during his cancer treatment that would continue for 16 surgeries over a course of 5 long years. He lost his dreams. He just wanted to get well and start his life again.

Today he is standing tall, confident and happy as he realizes his dreams as an engineering student with a 4.0 average. Your tremendous commitment and generous contributions enable him to study at one of best engineering schools in the nation. Ask him about his dreams now.  He is planning to get his PH.D. in Computer Engineering. Also, as a volunteer, he is following the footsteps of the volunteers who helped him.

I too, have walked in those footsteps. I, myself, was diagnosed with cancer in 1996. The experience was a turning point and a blessing for me. Instead of saying “Why me?” I chose to say “Why not me?”  Cancer helped me become more giving, loving and excited about life. Fascinated with nature, and the changing of seasons, I developed deeper relations with Mother Nature. The mystery of a seed is quite magnificent that from such a small pod comes such abundant life. Mother Nature, with her patience, generosity and unselfishness, inspired me to write poetry to share my thoughts and feelings with my friends.

In 1999, with the help of my family and friends, we expanded our efforts, establishing the Cancer Survivors’ Fund, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization with IRS 501(c)(3) status. With your help, we have improved the quality of life for many cancer survivors during the past 4 years. A few of them are here tonight.

Our unique organization has a big heart with an important mission, to provide emotional and financial support to children and young cancer survivors. We give prostheses to disadvantaged children and award scholarships to college-age survivors. They are our seeds, and with the right nurturing, motivation, and financial support, they can grow to be trees. Ultimately, our goals are to motivate them and channel their thoughts and dreams to a healthy and productive future. Their own efforts combined with our support will help them flourish, reach and exceed their potentials to succeed.

The Cancer Survivors’ Fund requires scholarship recipients to become volunteers for a minimum of 8 hours per month. This way, they give others the courage, hope and willpower to continue their fights with cancer.

I challenge you tonight to consider “Why not me? What could my support bring to the life of another young adult, a young adult saying, “Why me?” Your pivotal support signifies hope and creates opportunities. Let’s make more futures shine brightly --- together!  



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