At age 66, he seems like a healthy man, regularly taking morning walks and exercising in the park. But Şükrü Abay is a four-time cancer survivor and most recently recovered from the coronavirus. Abay, a father of three living in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, thought he saw the worst but says his past ordeals are “not even a quarter” of the suffering brought on by COVID-19. “If people could feel the pain I had from the virus, they would never even step out of their home,” he says, urging the public to take the utmost preventative measures against the outbreak. “It is unbearable,” he says.
Abay, who now leads a cancer charity, was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1993. After a lengthy treatment process, he recovered, but the illness forced him to change his lifestyle. He changed his dietary habits and devoted himself to healthy eating and regular exercise. In 2005, he was diagnosed with skin cancer. A “veteran” of the disease, he managed to recover again but was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2010 and skin cancer again in 2016. “I promised myself not to die of cancer,” he told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Wednesday. Yet, another disease was in store for him. He found out he had the coronavirus after symptoms emerged and he got tested.
“This is an altogether different pain. I went through four severe cases of cancer, and it took years to recover, but they are nothing compared with the pain the virus gave me. You don’t know if you are dead or alive. You lose your senses and struggle to endure the pain in your bed,” Abay said. He describes his first six days with the virus as a “fight, not a simple struggle.” “I was like in another world. It was somewhere between life and death. I had illusions, nightmares. The pain was so unbearable in my veins, my bones,” he recounts.
He warns others against the virus and calls the public not to leave home without a mask and to adhere to social distancing. “This is a very dangerous, invisible enemy. I was very careful but even I was infected,” he said.