Davut Topcan (read: Da-vooth Top-djan) is a long time friend of mine and before I go depths discussing what he's doing or why it's important I'd like to tell you how we got to know each other. Back in January 2004 when I was working at a software consulting company, namely FrontSITE, one of our focus areas was providing support for free software products and Linux-based operating systems.
We enjoyed what we did, and we had the office at the heart of the Istanbul at our disposal. Murat Koç and I decided to organize a small hacking workshop, tell about it in some mailing lists, invite everyone and do something useful together. For the first gathering we needed some low hanging fruit and it was obvious to both of us: internationalization, but what? I insisted on GNOME, and that's what happened. Looking at the archives, we were about 10 people, and one of them was Davut - a bright and young junior software developer.
Second gathering never happened. I left FrontSITE at the end of May 2004 and we lost contact with some of the people at the i18n event. Fast forward to a few years and companies I worked for, I stumbled upon Davut's blog. There were some very unpleasant news. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer, he was receiving chemotherapy for some time and he was blogging pretty detailed information about his experience throughout the process of diagnosis and therapy. He appeared to be mentally stable but emotionally vulnerable. I'd probably be much worse if I were to walk in his shoes, I have to admit. I contacted him and tried to keep in touch for a while.
Did I tell you that he's into some extreme sports? We lost contact again. In the meantime his chemotherapy was completed. He recovered from the side effects quickly and got on his motorbike on a highway and he survived a crash and they took him back to the hospital again -- for a different reason. Fast forward some months again, and he contacted me to tell that the cancer came back. He was receiving the second round of chemotherapy -- slightly better drugs and less side effects this time.
Neither cancer nor a bike crash can kill him, he completed the second round a couple weeks ago. Going through the process he discovered that #1 asset towards beating cancer is positive thinking and good morale. He witnessed how some patients receiving chemotherapy are leaving their daily life and becoming lonely people. Also he is one of those who keep it up. You don't just win a fight against cancer, you win a chance to live your life healthy.
Now he's doing something unique, at least in Turkey: he's determined to get in touch with thousands of cancer patients around the beautiful country of ours. He's going to interview them, learn about their experience, monitor their progress and let us know about their needs; so maybe we as a community can help. He's an active blogger and we'll be able to watch those interviews on the net. I don't really like the name, "[they're] not alone, no matter what" is what he calls the project.
I will keep an eye on the news, and I thought I'd share the love with you. Thanks for reading.