AURORA, Ohio — A Northeast Ohio boy has overcome the odds, becoming nationally ranked in taekwondo after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer.
Ten years ago, Sue Fazekas feared losing her son to cancer.
“I remember exactly when the surgeon told me he had cancer. My first words were ‘I can’t lose him.’ That is your fear and then you think he is never going to live a normal life.”’
At four years old, doctors diagnosed Fazekas' son, Luke Fazekas, with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. It’s a rare childhood cancer, where tumors rapidly grow in size. Luke underwent surgery and six months of intense chemotherapy. Throughout his fight against cancer, he showed an impressive level of toughness and resiliency.
“He drew this picture and it was this picture of a boat on the water. He was walking on the water and there was all this in front, like a storm, clouds and rain,” Fazekas recalled. “He is like ‘Oh it is me walking on the water. There is a big boat and there a big storm coming.”
She said Luke added, “‘Oh It is fine, I'm going to just walk right through it.’”
That mentality helped him survive cancer.
Three years after his diagnosis, Luke was in remission and he asked his parents if he could sign up for taekwondo. He became interested after watching his brother participate in the sport.
“He couldn’t do team sports because he was too weak. So that is why we started taekwondo. He could go at his own pace,” Fazekas said.
However, Fazekas never anticipated his ascension in the sport. He began competing and beating his peers.
“I just like finding new competitors and having a challenge,” Luke said.
He is now ranked number one in his age group and division in the entire nation. His instructor credits his success to mental toughness and an unmatched work ethic.
“He is a tough kid. He has toughed it. He has really proven to us that he is made to be champion,” said Luke’s instructor Woo Kwon.
After finishing first in the U.S. Open on Saturday, according to Luke, he is a lot more to prove.
“[I want to] make the U.S. National team. And then my long-term goal is to compete in the 2024 Olympics.”
But no matter where Luke’s journey takes him, his early fight against cancer showed him he is tough enough to win any match and endure the toughest of storms.
“I feel like God taught me I can get through anything if I can get through that," Luke said.