Battling stage 4 colorectal cancer, award-winning filmmaker Serdar Ferit shares tips on living with the disease

All around us people of all ages are being diagnosed with cancer and for those in the prime of their lives, it can be really difficult to process both emotionally and physically. For many, dealing with cancer can initially also be a lonely journey, which has prompted one British Turkish Cypriot battling colorectal cancer to share some tips on social media.

Londoner Serdar Ferit is an award-winning director and producer whose body of work includes music videos for pop stars, documentaries, and commercial films. In 2016, Serdar and his filmmaker wife Paulina Tervo (pictured above with their son) decided to launch Lyfta, a film company which commissions short educational documentaries on global issues that are aimed at schoolchildren.

Lyfta’s inspirational films cover a myriad of topics, from animal rights to autism, and life around the world, helping young people to make sense of the complex and diverse world they are growing up in through honest and authentic storytelling.

In the autumn of 2022, Serdar’s world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. The 43-year-old father-of-one has used his own storytelling skills to share his experiences to date.

Earlier this week, Serdar wrote on social media about eight things that have helped him since his cancer diagnosis. The posts, on X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn, have been viewed tens of thousands of times.

He starts by demonstrating his positive mental outlook, acknowledging that the stats for stage 4 colorectal cancer are not great – “the 5 year survival rate for my condition is about 10%”, Serdar writes citing Cancer Research UK as the source. He goes on to say he believes he will be in that 10%, “perhaps because I know that it’s the only way I’ll have a chance.”

Serdar describes himself as “a relentlessly optimistic person”, and although 2023 was “extremely challenging, physically and emotionally”, he remains positive about life: “I’m still waking up every day with the intention to leave the world a bit better than I found it.”

Serdar’s 8 tips on dealing with cancer

Serdar shares his top tips for people diagnosed with cancer, explaining his reasoning for, and experiences of each one.

1. Connecting and reconnecting with loved ones

Serdar describes this as cancer’s “best side effect” as he has been able to reconnect with so many friends and relatives, some of whom he’s not seen for over 20 years.

2. Connecting with other people who have cancer

“Cancer buddies” are an important way of sharing experiences and feelings with those going through a similar journey, with Serdar now able to support a few other patients, just as he was first supported when he was diagnosed.

3. Getting a second opinion

Since his diagnosis in 2022, Serdar has sought out a second opinion twice. His last one, from an oncologist at a different hospital, offered a very different perspective and “triggered a whole new treatment plan” that Serdar is more comfortable with.

4. Staying on top of the admin

Serious illness often means lots of paperwork, from letters with medical appointments, to test results, treatment plans, and more. Serdar says he keeps everything in a folder on an online drive and suggests if feels like “too much”, to ask “for support from a willing friend/family member.”

5. Counselling

Serdar recommends “counselling straight after diagnosis, for patients and their loved ones.” He said it was a “mistake” for him not to speak to someone before starting chemotherapy and suggests “reaching out to Macmillan Cancer Support for advice.”

6. Having a sense of purpose

“I can’t stress this one enough”, writes Serdar, adding that having a sense of purpose – whether a hobby, or life ambition – to do is vital due to the fulfilment it can give, which can be “almost medicinal”. For Serdar, it helps him to “keep going, despite the grim stats.”

7. Yoga, breathing and exercise

Serdar’s wife Paulina introduced him to yoga, which he has found to be “an extremely vitalising way to start the day, particularly when combined with breathing exercises.” He has also found walking and jogging “to be calming and soothing.”

8. A cancer card

Having a Macmillan card that explains Serdar is a cancer patient, who needs “to use the loo NOWWW!” has been helpful for Serdar “on more than one occasion”.

The filmmaker ends by giving an update on his own treatment to date, explaining that he is currently “back on chemotherapy”.

Serdar accepts that “the road ahead will be rocky and unpredictable”, but feels he will “grow and learn a lot on the way”, and states positively that “there will be light.”

As he states in his post, cancer treatment is constantly advancing thanks, in part, to research into cures that is now aided by artificial intelligence and other technologies. It means are people diagnosed with cancer can live with the disease for longer and often enjoy a better quality of life than previously through improved treatments.

You can read Serdar’s full post via his X post below. Feel free to share the advice and also to drop Serdar a note with your own positive experiences that could be helpful to others.