Interview with Béla Józsa

BÉLA JÓZSA is a 22 year-old young man who fought cancer, and became a junior bodybuilder world champion in the latest summer season. I asked him about his story and his plans for the future.

-When was the first time you went to a gym?

 -The very first time I went to a gym was on the 1st of September, back in 2004. At the time I was 15 years old, with my 53 kg total bodyweight and with a lot of space to improve; I was mesmerised by the smell of iron from the very first time, and decided that I would do this business more seriously than average gym-people. Since then, Johnny Lantos has become my mentor, who is still helping me in my goals.

-Let me ask a few questions about your illness, if that’s not too indiscreet. How did you discover that you have cancer?

-I was also a football-player back then. My team-mates were the first to tell me that there is something very strange in the way I breathe, and joked that my neck sometimes looks like if I swallowed a golf ball. Later at home in the mirror I noticed it too, but I thought it was my adam’s apple or something, (I wasn’t really aware of the human anatomy at the time), and as a child, I did not even think that it was some serious stuff. But when I turned 17, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer after a medical check.

-How did you overcome your illness?

-The doctors told me that I have very little chance to survive. That was not what I thought. Due to my illness, I had to maintain an extremely healthy diet and lifestyle, and do everything else as the doctors told. Because of my will to live and because of certain values that bodybuilding had taught me, I managed to survive. I had an operation, and several chemotherapy sessions, and although I have to externally take in thyroid hormones till the day I die, I can say that I’m cured now.

-How did bodybuilding help you in your fight with cancer?

-Bodybuilding gave me willpower, endurance and determination, which are inevitable qualities when fighting a disease. It also taught me to live a very healthy lifestyle, and to fight to the end.

-In what competitions did you take part so far? How did you succeed?

-My first competition was 3 years ago, back then I weighed 72 kilograms. Since then, I competed in several Hungarian championships, with different results. In the last summer season, I competed in two world-championships (NAC and WABBA): I won a 2nd, and a 1st place. Once again, I must thank Johnny Lantos, who is like a father for me, and when it comes to training, diet, and lifestyle, he is my only advisor.

-Who helped you the most?

Firstly I must thank my family, my mom, my sister and my dad, as they are my biggest motivation; and my friends, who were always there with me throughout my recovery. And once again, I must thank my mentor, Johnny Lantos.

 -What are your plans for the future?

I’m not really a planner type, but I would like to study now, as I am a first year pharmacy student at the University of Szeged. I’ve always been interested in medicines, since I have to manually provide my body with thyroid hormones, as I mentioned earlier. As this medicine keeps me alive, I’d like to help other people one day, or be part of a research team. In terms of competitions, I’m not planning to compete in the following year, as I’d rather concentrate on my studies. But who knows, maybe one day I will just spontaneously decide that it’s time for another competition. – said Béla Józsa

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