When I was 14 years old, my grandmother fainted and did not gain consciousness until she was taken to a hospital. In the three days that followed, we found out that there were six tumors in her brain. Doctors said that the cancer had spread there from her lungs. After her diagnosis, it took her six agonizing months to die.
Both my parents worked. It was an era where parents had their own lives and children had to find their own way. My grandmother chose to live with us to raise me, an only child. She was the one who taught me that I was worthy of love and that I was smart. Losing her was much more than just losing a grandparent.
I was left puzzled as to how she got this disease in the first place. She was very healthy in general. She was in her late sixties, had never smoked, had a healthy diet, and stayed active. At the time, I knew very little about cancer. I spent months, if not years, wondering about what happened to her and whether her extraordinary and sad life story, or her patient and strong character, had anything to do with it.
Nearly two decades later, I found myself sitting at my desk in London, UK, agonizing about writing the discussion chapter of my Ph.D. thesis in Psychoanalytic Studies, which addressed common subjective experiences of women who have breast cancer. It was a snowy winter in London, and as everyone was enjoying the holiday season, I was getting exceedingly frustrated, fastidiously trying to finish as much of my work as possible before the holidays were over.
In the days that followed, I requested an emergency session with my psychotherapist, Kathi. As I mentioned to her that I had written the discussion chapter three times in eighteen days and still had not gotten it right, I suddenly had a particular sensation in my stomach, as if I wanted to vomit. Soon I began vomiting words and tears.
I told Kathi how, as a young girl, I wondered about why my dear grandmother had cancer and how I fantasized about being able to help people one day who suffer like her. As I was talking I realized that I was still carrying my unresolved grief with me and finishing my work actually meant having to say goodbye to the dear woman who raised me.
My therapist very lovingly and eloquently met me in my mourning, and I cried like the little girl I had been when I lost my grandmother. At some point, it felt like time and space did not matter, I was just so lost.
In the following days, gradually my ability to think and to conceptualize came back. Words started flowing in my head, I found my voice and my structure, and this time I was able to complete my work in due time.
I decided to share my story with you as it is the essence of who I am and why I do the work I do. Before becoming a psychotherapist and conducting research, I had my fair share of confusion, despair, and frustration in my life. I have much to thank psychotherapy and my studies which helped me to overcome my personal difficulties in life.
However, in the meantime, I also discovered that the process of becoming a psychotherapist was more transformative and healing than any therapy I have been to thus far. I, therefore, made it my mission to make the information that I learned and benefited from tremendously in my own path to share with my clients in an accessible way.
In private practice, I could only reach one person at a time, and I felt that this information needed to be made accessible to a much larger audience. Therefore, David and I, aim to deliver through this website and our YouTube channel, our know-how about the psychological processes that are related to living with chronic illness and cancer. Having said that, we think these conversations are very much a lifeline for anyone who is looking for answers in life.
Born in Turkey, I studied, worked and lived abroad almost all my life. I am a mother of two wonderful children and my husband and I share a focus on working with cancer patients – although he is a neurosurgeon ;). In September 2017, we as a family became proud residents of Houston, Texas, where we re-connected with David and decided to join our minds together to do this work.
- B.A. in Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles
- M.A. in Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex, UK
- Ph.D. in Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex, UK
- Post-graduate training in Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy, Metanoia
- Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care,
Princess Margaret Hospital, University of Toronto, Canada
- M. Ed. In Counseling (Candidate), University of Houston-Victoria, Texas
Before coming to the US, we lived in London and Istanbul where I had been working as a psychotherapist, psychodynamic researcher, coach, and lecturer for over fifteen years with people from all walks of life. Since becoming a resident in the US, I have embarked on my master’s degree in counseling working towards becoming a licensed professional counselor to be able to work clinically in the US.
Currently, in Houston, I work as a coach with people who are struggling to find clarity and focus in their lives. Internationally, I continue to work as a psychotherapist through my online practice. Additionally, I am involved with various medical institutions, non-profit organizations and charities in Houston to support women who live with breast cancer.