AN EXAMPLE OF OVERCOMING ENCOURAGES YOUTH
Ten years after a shattering cancer diagnosis, an Egyptian tennis champion returned to the court more powerful and resilient than before. In an interview on SAT-7 ARABIC’s new youth program A Way for Tomorrow, he shares his experience of battling the disease and his inspirational story of resilience and rebuilding.
“After the operation, I went out to the tennis court to play again, but I couldn’t even remember how to hold the racket. The doctors were convinced I would never return to tennis. But one must not give in when people say something is impossible.” – Anwar El-Kamouny
A living example of resilience, tennis player Anwar El-Kamouny, 37, battled with bone marrow cancer, and its destructive effect on his body, to rebuild his professional career. Anwar’s story comes as a timely encouragement to youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), who face a myriad of challenges. SAT-7 is giving them hope through A Way for Tomorrow, which gives them a platform to be heard and guides them to build meaningful, fulfilling lives.
As a young man, El-Kamouny learned never to take no for an answer. Despite starting to learn tennis relatively late, at 21, he excelled in the sport and competed at World Championship level. But during his second tour in Macedonia, and without warning, El-Kamouny fell on the tennis court during a match. This fall triggered a 10-year journey of pain and frustration.
After 20 days of isolation and lab tests, he was diagnosed with bone marrow failure. His health deteriorated quickly, and he was facing death when doctors found that his brother was a match for a bone marrow transplant.
Despite losing his health and his hair, El-Kamouny never lost faith or hope in returning to tennis. But once again, he was hospitalised when an autoimmune response to the donated bone marrow almost cost him his hands. Doctors suggested amputation, but El-Kamouny refused –and endured excruciating pain for six months because he still hoped to play tennis again.
“It was a miracle that my hands healed,” he says. “They have almost returned to normal, except for one small part of one hand.”
In time, this recipe of resilience, passion, and expert medical care took El-Kamouny all the way back to professional tennis. Not only is he a tennis star, but he also speaks to youth at conferences and forums, inspiring them to be resilient and persistent in pursuing their dreams.
“The only thing that can make a change is to keep going, despite the circumstances, frustrations, and setbacks,” he says. “The only way to win is to continue the fight.”