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Life interrupted...but only temporarily - Brooklyn teen inspires other cancer survivors to hope and overcome obstacles

At the age of only 17, Sheepshead Bay resident Cetin Otar was diagnosed with every man’s worst nightmare: testicular cancer. But now, two years later, Otar is cancer-free and working toward his college degree with the goal of becoming a nurse of oncology. He has also started “Campaign of Life Interrupted” to provide hope and inspiration to cancer survivors everywhere. “I want to spread hope to other cancer patients my age,” said Otar. “I called it ‘Life Interrupted’ because when you have cancer, everything stops.” Otar received his diagnosis in November 2005 in a difficult way. His left testicle had swollen in size and a doctor told him not to worry, saying it was likely a simple infection he picked up from the boy’s boarding school he currently attended. The doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics and sent him on his way. When the swelling increased, Otar was rushed to the hospital, with his mother and girlfriend at his side, for emergency surgery to remove the malignant testicle. “When Cetin was diagnosed with cancer, I felt shocked because I had never really seen a change in him,” said Fatma Otar, Cetin’s mother. “He never really told me that he had a problem with his testicles. I found out when I took him to the doctors office. I felt as if this was an evil joke that somebody was playing with him and the family.” Otar recovered, but when it was discovered that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes Otar faced a far more extensive surgery and a long recovery. After surgery, he also became withdrawn and felt strange about having lost a testicle. “I felt depressed,” said Otar. “I felt like I was losing part of my manhood. His relationships also suffered and he broke up with his girlfriend. “I had so many friends. I was the popular guy at school,” Otar said. “I felt like after the surgery, everyone looked at me different.” But now, Otar has made a turn around and decided that he will use his hardship to inspire others. “I said, ‘You know what? We’re all God’s children,’” said Otar, recalling the period before the second surgery. “If I’m doing to die, then I’m going to die. But now I’ve got a second chance and I’m living life to the fullest.” Now he is attending school and working a full-time job as a valet parking manager. Originally Otar wanted to become a diplomat and receive a degree in international relations, but now wants to become a nurse in oncology. “A nurse is there with the patients and devoted to them,” said Otar. His cousin, Emre Yilmaz, was at Cetin’s side often during his illness. “My cousin was a fighter because since he had found out that he had cancer he kept telling everyone that he was okay,” said Yilmaz. “He never complained about the fact that wasn’t feeling good, but always put a happy face.” Both Otar and his mother looked to God for answers during his illness. “I believe in God so I said to myself that this is a test for my son,” said Fatma. As to the lessons that came out of this, Otar and his family used the illness to draw strength. “What I learned was that you need to stand up straight and be there for anyone if they are in the need of help, even if they are at tough times,” said Fatma. Otar has launched his Campaign of Life In-terrupted to tell other young cancer survivors like himself that there is life after cancer, a good life. Otar’s friends now even get to tease him a bit about his condition. “They call me ‘Uno,’ Otar joked.

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