International Taekwon‑Do Federation

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19 Jul 2021

Prior to the 2019 Taekwon‑Do World Championships in Bulgaria, I discovered a tumor in my chest and sought medical attention. However, the doctor was inattentive and allowed me to compete in the World Championship.

I took second place in the championship and sought advice from another specialist, which is when my worst fear began. I was sent for numerous tests and biopsies, and the diagnosis came during the flight from Moscow to the competition in December 2019 - I was diagnosed with cancer, and cancer cells had spread to my lymph nodes. I cried the entire flight, completely oblivious to the medals I was bringing home.

The checks and treatments were exceedingly complex; I underwent 16 exposures and 28 courses of chemotherapy in various categories. I experienced severe headaches and nausea for nine days following each chemotherapy session. I have had a very tough time, and without Taekwon‑Do, I wouldn’t have been able to complete all of these courses.

Throughout the treatments and operations, I always use Taekwon‑Do breathing techniques to alleviate pain and make me feel better. When I was required to receive a new infusion of chemotherapy and adopt new drugs, I mentally prepared myself by telling myself that I was simply competing against a new opponent, which improved my mood and put me at ease.

Fearful that the chemotherapy would impair my memory and cause me to forget the 21 Tuls I had learned, even when I was ill, I continued to practice Tuls every day following chemo and nausea. Tuls not only improved my memory, but also strengthened my body. While performing Tuls, I was able to focus entirely on the movements and ignore the fact that I was sick, which was the most effective way for me to calm down.

Additionally, following the most difficult chemotherapy, my bones ached so much that it was impossible to sleep. However, I imagined that it was because I trained frequently and it strained my muscles.

In addition, I set a goal for myself. At the hospital, I wore my dobok and black belt and practiced Taekwon‑Do during each course of chemotherapy. I was also able to encourage other patients. I approached them in dobok and informed them that because I had passed the courses, they would also pass. My actions inspire a large number of hospital patients. Not only were the patients and staff at the hospital were impressed, but all three of my children complimented me on my strength and toughness.

I never gave up my dream during that time period; I knew I would return to dojang and competition one day, because I am a fighter.

Thankfully, I completed all my treatments this year in February and the doctor announced me cured! I have resumed regular training, despite the fact that I am still under medical supervision every few months. I love 4th Dan Tuls so much and cannot wait to compete in international events again! I will continue to work on restoring my sports form and strive for the best.

I am truly thankful that Taekwon‑Do entered my life and rescued me from a life-or-death struggle. Taekwon‑Do and Gen. Choi Hong Hi will always hold a special place in my heart. Besides this, I owe a tribute to my first instructor, Grand Master Eduard Li, for introducing Taekwon‑Do into my life. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to our President, Prof. Ri Yong Son. We communicated via email throughout the treatment, and he was extremely encouraging.

Taekwon‑Do provides me with the faith, strength, and hope necessary to survive those trying times. It is the most powerful motivator, and my indomitable spirit enabled me to overcome cancer.

Larisa Goltsman

4th Dan, Israel ITF

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