The documentary
02 October, 2017

The documentary

Like son like father will tell Luca’s story from the eyes of his father, Umut Ozkirimli

BY / 1 year ago

Like son like father will tell Luca’s story from the eyes of his father, Umut Ozkirimli

LIKE SON LIKE FATHER

On Life, Death and Childhood Cancer

In February 2014, one month before his first birthday, his family noticed that their son, Luca’s gums were swollen. They thought it was a problem with his teeth coming out and took him to his first dentist appointment. The dentist examined him, suspected it could be something more serious, and sent them to the paediatric oncology ward. An MRI scan was booked for the next morning, and on Tuesday 21rst of February 2014 at 15:00, an atomic bomb went off in their hearts: they were told that he had a malignant tumour in his jaw. Cancer.

Eventually they would also find out that this was a metastasis and that he also had a tumour in his abdomen. He was given the diagnosis High Risk Neuroblastoma, Stage 4. Neuroblastoma is one of the most aggressive forms of paediatric cancer and accounts for around 15% of all cancer deaths in children.

During over four years of treatment, Luca went through more than 35 rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, stem cell transplant, radiation therapy, accutane treatment and various versions of immunotherapy. He relapsed three times; travelled to Michigan, Los Angeles, Barcelona and Copenhagen in search of a cure that would save him from the clutches of the disease which would eventually claim his life.

Luca endured all parts of the often-excruciating treatment like a superhero – a green ninja he would say – with magical powers. In the meantime, thanks to a fundraising campaign that went viral and raised nearly 250.000 USD in only ten days, he turned into a symbol of hope not only for other cancer patients and parents, but also for countless others disillusioned with their lives, or life in general. The news of him passing away on the 5 July 2018 was widely reported in Turkey; got 1.020.420 impressions and 158.639 engagements on Twitter (with 2.129 people actually replying to the original tweet); 1.095 comments and over 1.3k “likes” on Facebook. He left behind a legacy of love, openness and forgiveness, in the words of his mother Erika Larsson.

This documentary will tell Luca’s struggle from the eyes of his father, the political scientist Umut Ozkirimli. Umut will talk about Luca and the challenges of being a cancer parent. The documentary will not be “expository” or didactic, trying to convey a message to the viewers; rather, it will have a dramatic structure, with some twists and turns. It will also delve into existential questions on life, death, family and love through the eyes of the storyteller

The title is inspired by a short text written by the Barcelona-based writer and translator Julie Wark (read at Luca’s funeral on 26 July 2018).

I just wanted to write something to you that is strongly in my mind today and I will try to pass it on, though I’m not sure whether it can be put well into words. I think you are a very different man today from the before-Luca man I first met. Luca was a really special little boy who found his way into the hearts of everyone who was lucky enough to meet him. And, now, when I think of you, I see you as a man who is full of this beautiful boy, Luca, the son of you and Erika. Normally one thinks that kids take after their parents but, this time, at least as I see it, you take after Luca. He is so much a part of you I’ll never be able to look at you again without seeing him in you. What he has given you is something really beautiful. You both expressed such love for each other. And that is what he has left in you. And what he has left in you makes you a very special man. Look after it well.

 

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