My brother, Syed Taqi Rizvi started showing symptoms like uncontrollable coughing, excruciating chest pains and loss of voice in 2009. Soon he was diagnosed of cancer (mediastinal seminoma) at a very early age of 20. He was just finishing his first year of law and had his final exams right around the corner. His chemotherapy was started at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan soon after the diagnosis. The chemo was effective but not enough so the doctors combined it with radiation. After several episodic exposures to radiation, the tumor was reduced to a negligible size. With the grace of God, his cancer was declared to be in remission.
Soon afterwards, he returned to completing his law degree and finally graduated as a lawyer in May 2013. That happiness was soon overshadowed with complaints of even worse chest aches, continuous high fever and dry coughing. His PET-CT Scan revealed the recurrence of the tumor. He was again treated at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital but this time with stronger salvage chemo. He was scheduled to be treated with four cycles of chemo.
During all this time our beloved mother, who herself had been a patient of Hepatitis-C for last ten years, was painstakingly taking care of my brother. Unfortunately Hepatitis-C led to cirrhosis of my mother's liver. During the second cycle of brother's chemo treatment she developed ascites and had incidents of nose bleeding followed by a severe neck/throat infection. The treatments did not work much and she ultimately had liver failure. We had no options other than to get her a liver transplant.
My father is a government official who will be retiring in May 2015. I am a Software Engineer at a company in Pittsburgh, USA. With two simultaneous incidents of severe diseases in family it was not only difficult to cope up financially but also morally and physically. I then made an emergency trip to Pakistan in November 2013 to look into my mother's treatment options while my father took care of my brother. Liver transplant was not an easy route to pursue. Transplant was not only challenging financially but also logistically"”liver donors were required to be patient's first degree relatives by the Government of India's organ donation regulation. With a brother on chemo and an over-aged, diabetic father with an incident of stroke less than a year ago, my mother's siblings and I were the only options. Further rigorous pre-transplant donor evaluations identified me as the most suitable donor for my mother and so on January 6th, 2014 we underwent a live-donor-liver transplant surgery. The liver transplant package required the patient, the donor and two attendants to accompany. My father being a government official (with travelling restriction to India) left us with the options of travelling to India with my brother (who was discharged from his last chemo cycle less than two weeks ago) as our male attendant. The nature of our urgency was such that we had to take my exhausted brother with us.
Fortunately, the transplant went successfully and my mother is on her way to recovery. As a donor, I am also doing well and almost back to be physically normal but it usually takes 6 months to fully recover. After the post-liver transplant checkups and clearance from doctors my mother and brother returned to Pakistan in time for my brother's follow up. Before the
checkup, my brother began to experience milder chest pains and fever again. He finally got the tests done last week and unfortunately was declared with a third recurrence of cancer"”unconfirmed non-/seminomatic nature of the tumor larger than either of the times before. Due to limitation of access to advanced medicine at Shaukat Khanum they had already informed us of their inability to treat third recurrence of his tumor. However, they are helping us out with its diagnosis. My brother had a surgery/biopsy yesterday on March 29th for extraction of tumor samples for further diagnosis. Shaukat Khanum's surgeon confirmed that the tumor cannot be extracted due to its tricky location between the heart and the lungs. When we initially found out about the tumor, we were devastated thinking that we did not have many options for treatment but searching online and speaking to doctors in the US and the UK gave us some hope. His doctor has recommended Indiana University Cancer Center which is pioneer in treating seminomatic/teratomatic tumor cancers. Even though I work in the US and hold an insurance plan, I am not able to sponsor him via my insurance policy. We as a family have exhausted our savings trying to get treatment for the health challenges we face. Less than two months ago we spent $70,000 on my mother's treatment and $15,000 for my brother's treatment. It is not easy for us to explore this route of help but right now we find ourselves in desperate need. We need a lot of help to get my brother his treatment-- starting from treatment advice, to obtaining medical visa, to financial help, to sharing this message with others.
We are given a ballpark figure of $300,000 for his medical expenses. We are looking into options for gaining access to my father's retirement funds, tapping into all which is left with us or any charity facilities. We have already spent around thousands of dollars for all the medical bills up till now on our own. Being an average middle class family we will not be able to get this huge amount of funds together on our own.
We will be providing updates about the progress of my brother's health through this page.
If you have any questions or suggestions or advice or you want to contact or want to donate offline to us below are the details. Please understand we may not be able to respond everyone immediately.
Email: [email redacted]
Thank you for spending your time to read through this.
Syeda Fatima Rizvi
- Pooja Nitin
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