Genuine Suffering

Last winter I succumbed–I developed problems which I think are called cancer-phobia. The fear of getting cancer. People say it happens to hospice volunteers. I had panic attacks, I would wake up at night from simple colic and wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again, thinking terrible thoughts. Then I’d frantically pace down the corridor, pinch and prod myself everywhere, and cry. I found it hard to breathe, I inhaled air as if oxygen were shut off. I was shaking, and I was finding symptoms of every disease imaginable. If I had an unexpected bruise, which is normal since I’m active in sports so I don’t always notice being hit, I started to wonder. I couldn’t do normal things–writing, reading, having a conversation. I remember how we got acquainted with Nina in a hospice who had a lump on her hand which then grew and consumed the hand, which was amputated, and then the rest of her. We got acquainted, and several days later she died in pain. This lump remained in my head–an ordinary lump which killed a human being.

This is one of the most difficult problems we encountered in the course of our aid effort. We’ve buried many of the people we care for in the last three and a half years, which is very hard on us–you are helping people for years, knowing they have no chance. One has to look them in the eye, after all. And it’s difficult to do, knowing they have little time left. It’s difficult to pretend that next year they’ll watch their child pass exams, it’s difficult to ask how they are doing. It’s difficult to watch women lose their minds, knowing their children will be completely alone, without fathers and relatives.

But we continue to help.

Our Lilya.

Наша Лиля.


Lilya got cancer right before the war, and instead of getting treatment she was hiding in cellars from shells. Her house was in Lugansk, in the part that was heavily shelled. Lilya lost precious time, she had advanced cancer and the doctors gave her a month to live. But she needed some observation. Moreover, the family could not afford anything.

Lilya lives alone with her son, she can’t walk or take care of herself. She requires medications, diapers. There’s nobody to wash them, and one also has to eat and there’s no money for that either. The son is growing, he too needs assistance. He lived through the shelling, now his mother is wasting away. He’s in a rehab center where psychiatrists are working with him, he’s studying, but…

We got Lilya into a cancer hospice and she spent 4 months there, against all rules. Usually people there can stay for up to a month.


She was sent home, and we talking to a neighbor who was paid to help her, for about a moth and a half. Then she too gave up. “It’s very hard, psychologically, I can’t go on.” I understand her perfectly.
Our friends continually bring Lilya what she needs, all thanks to your help. The photos show our work over the course of several months.

Then we got in touch with a hospice in Novosvetlovka which admitted her. Not a cancer hospice, though, so it doesn’t have the necessary medications.

Zhenya writes: “They gave her a nice room, two beds, opposite of the desk. Easy to call the nurse. But…There’s no cell service, no TV service. We’ve tried to set up the antenna for two hourse, no success.”
We’ll try to get her into the Lugansk cancer hospice again, but the odds are against us.
They are heavily overloaded, people are in beds in corridors, there’s a long waiting list. Sometimes people die before being admitted. There’s nothing one can do about that…


After the move, Lilya’s mood deteriorated. She gained weight in the Lugansk hospice. Last time I saw her, she was in a combative mood, gave orders, told stories, smiled and laughed and all of our jokes.
Zhenya talked to the cancer ward director, wanting to find out what to do ho help. She responded–don’t torture her. Lilya complains her body is “like stone”, crushing her chest and muscles. They asked the director–“is that what we think it is?”. “Undoubtedly–cancer everywhere.”


Lilya is fading away. The director asked for a number to call, just in case. But there is no number to call. So Zhenya gave his.
Lilya has nobody else left.


This is Anzhela. We also met her in the hospice. She has female trouble–everything was cut off. She lost a lot of weight and her hemoglobin dropped. We brought her food, medications in order to increase the blood iron level. We also paid for a scan which unfortunately found small formations.
The cancer clinic refused to treat her, due to low weight and poor hemoglobin. But the doctors likely think treatment would be useless. We were called by the daughter, who cried and told us she sold everything she could to pay for the treatment.

And this is Tanya.
Completely alone, no husband, one young son, no relatives, a tiny pension. Six chemos in a year. There was hope, but not there are metastases in the lymph nodes. Her hand is like a stone–the growths are there too. There’s no point in operating.


Nobody has told her directly the true state of affairs.
Tanya is awesome. In spite of everything, she’s not surrendering, she’s fighting and hoping.
She planted dill in her garden.
Tries to not even think about her illness.

I would like to say one more thing, perhaps a banal one, perhaps for one hundredth time, but–live your life to the fullest. Don’t think up problems. Life is so short, and anything can happen at any moment. We spend so much energy on unnecessary emotions. We simply understand what genuine suffering is. I say “we”, because it also concerns me.

Big, no, huge thanks and a low bow from all of us to those who participate in our aid effort, who continue to read me, and who reads these posts to the end. I don’t know if I would be able to read something like this. It’s not simply difficult, it knocks your feet from under you. Such pain.
Please label contributions specifically intended for “our girls”, as Zhenya calls them, “Cancer”. But I want to say that even if nobody contributes anything, we won’t abandon them.

If you want to join the aid effort for the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebookV Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Хочу сказать одно, пусть банальное, пусть в сотый раз, но – живите полной грудью. Не придумывайте проблем. Жизнь так коротка и в любой момент может произойти что угодно. Мы так много тратимся на ненужные эмоции и переживания. Мы просто не понимаем, что такое настоящее горе. Я говорю “мы”, потому что это и про меня.



New Life in Lugansk

To some, living in Lugansk seems like something taken from the pages of fiction, literally a life under machine-gun fire or in Chernobyl after the accident. But in reality, to many people it’s long-sought salvation.
Thus Lugansk has become a new home to those who were exchanged for Ukrainian POWs.
You’ve learned of some of them from my reports, those are the people we are helping with setting up their new lives.
They are difficult, these lives, since these people left everything they had over there, on the other side. There is no way back.To where their parents and relatives live. Where their homes and lives used to be.
Starting over from nothing, with children, ailments.
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Our Chronicle

I wrote a large, pathos-laden speech before this report but then erased it. Such words are probably unnecessary here.
Bitterness, sadness, sense of injury–these feelings must be removed from posts. It seems that, over the last three and a half years, we got tired of it. And if our earlier stories were full of tragedy, they’ve since become a chronicle. A chronicle of war, of aid, of human fates. I’d like to change a lot in the surrounding us world, but all I can do is talk about tiny fragments of human lives.
These are our “workdays” which are difficult to tell in a novel way every time.
Because they’ve become a “routine”, which fills our days.
For example, the story of Marina and Alyona, two girls who live without their parents.
The older one works and feeds and younger who is a student. They’ve never seen their fathers, the mother is unfit and even the girls say “it’s better she never comes back.”
So here I’m looking at a photo with the older Marine and the aid we brought, and see a very thin girl. Tiny, fragile, and a stuff elephant with a raised trunk. For some reason I wanted to write about the pink elephant. Small, like Marine herself, on a sofa in an apartment where there’s almost no furniture. With a rug as backdrop. The whole internet makes fun of things like that. But the rug keeps the heat in…And decorates the utterly empty apartment.


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About the Victory

At the age of 17, I went to see a girlfriend in Malta during the summer after completing the first year. We were invited by a family for a supper. We spent the evening by a pool with a fancy table around which many notables from this tiny nation were sitting. They were related to the girlfriend’s husband, and they were old enough to be my parents and even grandparents. And then they suddenly started to speak about World War 2.
It all ended with my girlfriend tearing me away from the Maltese aristocracy which couldn’t understand what triggered me. I was seventeen, and it was the first time I heard that USSR played only a minor role in that war. They were around, they helped bring victory closer.
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Olga Ivanovna

A call late at night–nothing makes sense, there’s only sobbing coming out of the phone. It’s past the curfew, can’t go anywhere.
We were called by Olga Ivanovna, a retiree, who couldn’t even describe what happened. My friends went to see her first thing in the morning.
The woman practically doesn’t get out of bed, she needs medications for which there’s no money. “I’m so ashamed…I have no-one to ask, it’s just us here. and you were so helpful the last time that I had enough medications for three months.”
We brought medications. Situation is critical–Olga Ivanovna has a class 1 disability, almost can’t walk, Type 1 diabetes, hypertension, heart trouble.

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Surviving with Grandkids

“Our main food is bread. Flour is cheap here.”
That’s how Zhenya answered when asked what they eat.
It’s an inevitable question, because they earn only 2900 rubles for the whole family a month.
With two kids. With utilities, school supplies, and grandma’s type 2 diabetes and hypertension, in spite of which she’s raising the two grandkids. The mother vanished at the war’s start.
I wrote about this family before–click on the Timur and Elisey tag at the bottom of this post.

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Good News!

We visited Petya and Ira in March. Petya was freed in December, after two years in captivity. He and dozens of others were exchanged for Ukrainian POWs. His wife and three kids abandoned everything and followed their husband and father to LPR. Crossed the border by some miracle, and now live all together in a dorm in Lugansk. I wrote about them earlier–click on the Ira and Petya tag at the bottom of this post. Petya used to be a coal miner, then joined the militia after he saw how the UAF was bombing peaceful civilians.
The family is struggling, they are starting over from zero, far away from relatives and family. But they are together, they truly love one another, and are happy to have each other. Even strangers see it.
You know, I think it’s possible to predict how the kids will turn out on the basis of how parents interact. They have amazing kids. Moscow Zhenya and I can’t get enough of them. Charming, merry, and very lively. In spite of what they lived through.
They lived in the midst of war that whole time. Ira and Petya’s house is on the border close to Pervomaysk, but just on the other side. They watched people die. And still can’t get used to the fact the shooting isn’t constant.


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Day of Blood

I remember the tiniest details of the moment when I first learned about what happened in Odessa four years ago. I was in a hurry so I understood nothing. In the evening I started reading. But even then I understood nothing.
I understood nothing on the next day. My newsfeed consisted of Navalnyy and other oppositionist nonsense drooling over the yellow-blue flag. I didn’t know what to read and how to understand it. I didn’t understand the people with beautiful faces who were saving dogs or were posting about people without hands who were drawing but on that day wrote about the “smoked hundred.” My friends, my acquaintances. To be sure, I didn’t realize what was happening, I thought there was some mistake, a misunderstanding. Because one can’t talk like that about living people.
The realization came later, after some time.

 

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Hurrah!

Now it can be announced!)
We bought a vehicle, brought it over, all the paperwork is done!)))
We can finally exhale!
You can’t imagine what a load off our shoulders this is.
All these months we were struggling with Zhigulis, which can’t take any cargo. We’d make three trips to one place, take out the seats, all the same, it was one constant struggle.
But now: ta-da!!!!

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Helping Anya

The photos show Anya, a mother of three from Lugansk. It seems this is how I begin every story about people requiring aid. But this is not an ordinary story. The family was not in hardship before these events…They were not rich, but led normal lives.
Her husband is on the front lines. Yes, he’s in the militia. Hes, he serves in places from which one might not return.
In November, the girl’s legs gave up. It just happened one day. The physicians just shrugged–it’s the stress, it’s the war, all manner of phrases which collectively expressed the failure to identify the exact cause. One way or the other, she can’t walk.
Zhenya said, after visiting, that all over the house there are ropes, stools, things on which the girl can lean when hobbling from place to place. He says she’s so thin, she’s practically transparent.
The kids help as best they can, trying to maintain the home.

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