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Amazing ambassador
She walked in and I could feel the cloud of despair lift from the room



Courtney Susemiehl
January 6, 2006

My stepdad is a diabetic who kept himself very active in his retirement. Last June, my stepdad suddenly became very ill... He became weak, lost his appetite, lost weight, and, very quickly started losing hope.

After a comprehensive visit to his Endocrinologist, he was referred for testing. His pancreas was not functioning properly and his skin was gradually turning a bright shade of yellow. He soon could not walk across the room, or get out of his chair. A man who once had so much energy and spunk was wilting away in body and soul. He had given up hope.

Then, my stepdad met Dr. Maryam Parviz, his Oncology Surgeon, who happened to be from Iran. Dr. Parviz gently and confidently explained that he would require surgery, and she ordered the necessary tests in preparation.

My stepdad grew weaker by the day and was hospitalized four days before his surgery to help strengthen his body.

I first met Dr. Parviz in my stepdad's hospital room in the days before his surgery. She walked in and I could feel the cloud of despair lift from the room, followed by a breath of hope. Her warmth and gentle manner eased my anxiety immediately. She joked with my stepdad about his lovely yellow skin tone-evoking laughter from everyone, including my stepdad. Then, she calmly spoke about what we could expect with the surgery and beyond. I had researched the surgical options ahead of time, so I understood when she started explaining the intricate procedure she would perform.

Dr. Parviz explained the procedure that would save his life... She would remove part of his pancreas, liver, stomach, and large intestine, and then reconnect the organs to the large intestine... The Whipple technique, a highly technical procedure that could only be successful with an experienced team. Somehow I knew with my whole heart that my stepdad would make it through.

When I first saw Dr. Parviz walk into that hospital room, it was as if I was looking into the eyes of God, and my fear immediately vanished.

Watching my stepdad wait for surgery was the most painful of all. He knew the battle for his life was no longer his to fight. Even as a Korean War veteran, my stepdad later recalled that this illness and awaiting surgery was the most traumatic time in his life.

His surgery went better than expected. Dr. Parviz was able to remove the mass in its entirety, improving his odds for a longer remission. She estimated a prognosis of about 3 years of cancer-free living.

My family is so grateful! Through this experience, we were given an incredible gift of time and hope.

As we say goodbye to 2005 and all that it held in our lives, my family is so thankful for the gift of time to cherish all that is important and the miracle of hope. With the New Year, we are all given another chance... Another chance to make a difference in our world and for those around us; another chance to show we care. Another chance to rebuild what may be broken; another chance to forgive for what cannot be repaired.

In the New Year, we are given a fresh start to make our world peaceful and healthy-and it all begins where we live, at home. This New Year, my family is thankful for a physician from Iran, Dr. Maryam Parviz.

Through her skillful, beautiful hands, Dr. Parviz gave my family another new year to celebrate together. She lifted the cloud of despair and gave my family hope that there is life even in the face of death. We should cherish WHAT IS. As a U.S. citizen practicing medicine in our community, Dr. Parviz is an amazing ambassador for the people of Iran.

In her eyes, I see the light of God. And, as my family enters the New Year, we are filled with hope.

Story first told on Shahrokh Nikfar's "Persian Hour" on KYRS FM 95.3 -- a community radio station in Spokane, Washington State.

For letters section
To Shahrokh Nikfar

Dr. Maryam Parviz
Cancer Care Northwest

Shahrokh Nikfar


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