Elena Petrovna had died

On Friday, on early morning of January 24, Elena Petrovna died in intensive care. She was a lonely retiree with no relatives. No husband, children, family.
She was being helped by a neighbor, also a retiree.
She spent the entire active part of the war of the summer of ’14 in her home in Lugansk: “where was I to go on my legs?” Her house was lucky, the shells flew by. The woman could only pray for her survival. She did not have the strength to run to bomb shelters, and her situation was the same as that of many other retirees. But the neighbors did get hit.
Epilepsy, stroke, hepatitis–this is a far from full list of ailments the woman had suffered in the past few years. In ’17 she was diagned with cancer.

We tried to help the woman as best we could. She did not have it easy at all.
Thank you everyone who helped us!
She is not suffering any more.

R.I.P

 

We will fight!

I was recently asked what I would say in The Hague, when giving testimony on war crimes. I didn’t know what to say.
Probably because we’ve seen so many stories…hundreds. For example, there’s this girl who has since grown up who watched her mother’s death. Shrapnel struck her head and she died instantly. The girl, the very young girl, saw it all with her own eyes. Or, in another case, the man whose wife and son were blown to pieces all over the block. There’s also the elderly woman who lost a leg and an arm, and her own brother who lives in Dnepropetrovsk told her over the phone she’s lying and that they are “separatists” and therefore it’s her own fault. There are also invisible stories, too many to count. Each time I write about these stories, people write in comments the war has nothing to do with them.

As far as I am concerned, the war has everything to do with them.
These are our cancer patients. Whom we look after. Naturally, nobody can say why the swelling began. It’s a whole universe of causes. Rich, beautiful, young, famous, all burn out and no amount of money can save them. And  they are not in the midst of any war. This is a serious illness with which humanity has not learned to fight. But we always encounter cases where someone needed to start treatment, but had to hide in cellars because of shells. Or had to go to a doctor, but couldn’t because of shells. And when it’s not about the shells, it’s about struggling to survive. Health care system barely copes, in spite of all the aid the Republics are getting. There’s always something lacking. Hospitals are full, there are long waiting lists. And no, this is not just stress. People have been living there for six years, in isolation, with tiny salaries. Awaiting the big world’s decision. Simple, ordinary people who don’t know what tomorrow will bring. They don’t know how to live. But life goes on, time flies and, alas, nothing changes. All of these Normandy Fours, Fives, Dozens…they have no impact on ordinary lives. Shelling continues, people struggle to survive, the world does not recognize. There is no work, salaries and benefits are minimal, but the prices are like everywhere else…

So, as you might imagine, this post will be about one of our cancer “girls”. About Viktoria. My most recent post about her was during the summer.



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Why did they stay?

One angry lady showed up in the comments section last night. She wrote two harsh comments stating that she and her three kids left the war zone, lives in Russia, is really struggling, but at least her kids don’t know what war is. The post concerned collecting aid for New Year festivities. The woman wrote that nobody brings her presents, which means those who stayed there did so because it’s beneficial to them, and that makes her very angry. They are there to collect aid.
I’ll say this–yes, we have seen people like that in ’14. Alas, they did exist. I remember one woman in Pervomaysk who did not want to leave the bomb shelter even though heavy shelling stopped a long time ago. She did not want to leave because journalists and volunteers were showing up by the hundreds. They brought food, clothing, medications. Just sit and take. But listen–it’s been five years since that time. Yes, sometimes humanitarian aid does arrive, but that’s not enough to live on. Nobody’s been living in bomb shelters for a long time, the war has moved into a new phase. No, that phase is no better or worse, it’s just different. Unruly, protracted.
The aid from our convoys is meant mainly for hospitals, kindergartens, retirement homes, dormitories, other institutions. This is real aid. They bring equipment, special preparations, insulin, and much else needed for people to live. But to say that people find it convenient to stay in the warzone is just funny. Salaries, pensions, benefits in the Republics are tiny. Life there is very difficult. It’s hard to find work, pay is low. And there’s the war. Leaving now is not like leaving in ’14 when there were refugee processing centers and many programs assisting in restarting one’s life. Now it’s a multi-layered hell where the problem is not only the institutions but even the question of where to turn to. Even with one kid it’s a problem, and what do you do when you have three? And what about single moms, elderly, disabled, bedridden? What are they to do?
The lady was very angry, but her pain and the difficulty of her situation were plainly felt. She removed her comments after some time. But I can say that I constantly encounter such opinions concerning those who remained among those who have left, and also among Russians. Very many condemn those who live there. And I always answer the same–you have no idea what you would have done yourselves in that situation.
My friend from Lugansk did not leave because her parents absolutely refused to leave their land and she couldn’t leave them. Everyone has their own pain and own reasons. It’s seemingly obvious, but apparently, not entirely since people are constantly making similar comments.
That’s how tit is.
Friends, thanks to all who continue to help our team in helping people of the Donbass. In this post there is a report on medications for two people who are really struggling.
Did they have an opportunity to leave? Why did they stay? I don’t think it’s for us or that lady to judge. But I know that anyone can find themselves in a tough spot. Anyone at all.
And I’m glad we can help them somehow.

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Viktoria from Fabrichnoye

Well, Yandex won’t like this post. I understand it. I would be glad to write about pink ponies but it seems life took me elsewhere. This is a hard post. Those who don’t want “negativity”, please close it down and don’t read it.
The post is about Viktoria who lives in the village of Fabrichnoye, near Lugansk. It’s popularly known as the “Birdtown” since it has a chicken farm. That same long-suffering farm that was shelled in August ’14. My long-term readers know it well, since we’ve rendered aid to Lyubov Mikhailovna Chernykh, a retiree who was wounded there. After several buildings were damaged, the corpses of the birds almost immediately started to rot because ’14 summer was unusually hot. Lyubov Mikhailovna and other women from the village went to clean out these corpses. The village, like Lugansk itself, kept being shelled. But there was no other option.
She lost a leg and an arm on one such day (to read more about her, please click on the Chernykh tag at the bottom of this post).
Viktoria is from the same village and spent the whole summer of ’14 there. The whole hell. She was 41 when the war began.
I wrote many times int he blog that the cancer ward in Lugansk is in difficult straits. They have not seen such an influx before the war. Now there are long waiting lists. The hospice is nearly impossible to get into.
Viktoria had a huge lump appear under the jaw. Another one in the breast. Both–malignant…

Viktoria, unlike many other people we look after, is not. Unlike Sofia, who died alone with her tiny daughter in her arms…
She has a daughter, but she recently gave birth. The daughter’s husband works a dozen jobs a dozen hours a day and they still don’t have enough. The family has nothing but debts due to Viktoria’s chemotherapies and other health problems. Medications are needed.
Zhenya writes: “She cried a lot, of course, when she learned the diagnosis.” Viktoria talks and smiles, her smile is bright, but there are tears in her eyes. “I smile, so everything will be well, right?” And a child-like gaze, full of hope.
Viktoria is the soul of the village, she is loved and respected. When they found out she was ill, neighbors made a collection around the village. Collected money. Thanks to them Viktoria was able to have 6 (!!!) rounds of chemo. She also has a serious hormonal imbalance and jumps in sugar levels…She’s taking hormonal preparations.”
That’s where things stand.
Not too well…
When they turned to us for help, Viktoria was supposed to have a surgery. Or, rather, two at once. It was necessary to buy all the consumables for the surgeries. That’s how it is in Lugansk, alas. We’ve had to do this more than once.
Micro-metastases were detected in the lump (the last photo) but as far as I understand they have not spread. That’s very good. Viktoria is on the mend.
The surgeries were canceled.
Chemo will begin on September 2.
But the family still badly needs help.
We currently take care of two people with cancer.
There’s also Anzhela, and I’m gathering my strength to write about her. Everything’s gone badly there.
Overall, friends, if you want to help, please label your contributions “cancer”.
The food we’ve delivered.

Medical history extracts.

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

Tanya’s War

Tanya died in Lugansk on February 5.
Did we know that would happen?
Yes, we did.
Tanya had the fourth stage of cancer, so everything pointed in that direction.
I often ask myself whether Lilya, Ira, Inna, Sofia, and other people under our care would have died if it weren’t for the war?
I don’t know.
At first glance, it would seem it wasn’t the war that killed them.
It was cancer.
A disease which cuts down people irrespective of where and how they live. Rich, beautiful, young, successful. Cancer doesn’t care. Scientists are looking for causes, they seem to have found something, there are various theories. But…nobody can say anything with confidence.
I first encountered that disease when I was 14, when a school friend got ill. I visited him for a year, every week, in the children’s ward on Kashirka. He had lung cancer and he should have died.
But he survived. In spite of it all.
I remember well the children in the hallway who would at some point disappear.
I was a child myself, and my mom at first would not allow me to go to the hospital, fearing for me. She was probably right. But I could not be stopped.
I I also remember my naive question asked of the small lovely girl with an IV: “why?” “for what?”
The people we cared for were killed by cancer.
The young Tanya was killed by cancer.
She left behind Maksim who now lives in an orphanage.
This is not combat. Not bombings, not wounds.
It’s a terrible disease which carried off this beautiful young girl with an IV whom I saw on the Kashirka.
It carried off many.
But you know what I know for certain?
I know that if it weren’t for the war, many of these people would have been able to obtain proper care in time. Get drugs, surgeries, accurate diagnoses. And some would have survived.
Many of them developed cancer as they sat in cellars and were afraid to go outside.
Many of them had cancer develop at a spectacular speed after what they lived through.
Yes, one can say that in some cases war was the catalyst.
Doctors in the cancer ward in Lugansk told us many times that now Lugansk is experiencing a cancer boom. Long lines which the surgeons can’t cope with. There was nothing like that before the war.
And yes, I think Tanya was killed by the war.
Please pray, those of you who are believers, for Tanya.

RIP

Tanya and her son in December. One of the last photos where she’s smiling.

 

Various News

We have news.
I tried to find the right words for this, but couldn’t think anything other than “various”.
Various news.
Tanya is leaving. Tanya, whom we have been helping for several years. Cancer, fourth stage.
The young son is still in an orphanage, the mother can’t do anything anymore. Endless operations, chemos, more chemos.
Now she’s home.
She has more pain, fever has been constant for a while, she’s more frequently unconscious. Our friends managed to obtain an effective painkiller for cancer patients. They make her sleep all the time. She only has days left. Perhaps hours.
A priest was summoned recently.
And we also found a caregiver for her.
It’s our blind Vika’s mom, Sveta.
Sveta spent many years caring for her mother. When we met in the spring of ’15 in Lugansk, in addition to the dead son, ill and blind Vika, she was taking care of her bed-ridden mother. Vika’s grandmother and Sveta’s mom died when the two were in the TB clinic in Moscow. Now Sveta helps us with Tanya.
That’s how things are.

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The Beginning of the End

I posted only positive things for the several weeks of holidays, and there was a lot to write about. Our team, together with you, did a great deal of work which is visible in our recent reports (these are not merely holiday greetings posts!). But our blog, unfortunately, is not about happiness but rather about pain. But we all are working on making this pain less strong. Or perhaps go away altogether, because even the hardest of posts nevertheless represent hope. One of my readers made a proposal for one of the people we care for. It was a bold proposal to which I responded that right not it would be hard to do. But then she said “Dunya, I’ve gotten used to you being a miracle worker and thought you would pull off that one too”.
But my posts are not always a ray of hope.
I’m no miracle worker, no Snowmaiden, I can’t work miracles even though sometimes, thanks to you, it turned out that way. We made it turn out that way.
I can’t save the dying. We can’t.
And the hardest part for me are the posts about our cancer patients. Very many of those whom we’ve been helping have already left this life. Young and beautiful, mothers, elderly. All kinds. They were devoured by the illness. In some cases the final stage could have been avoided if it weren’t for the war. If treatments were provided on time, but the war made that impossible–they had to sit in cellars instead of having chemo. That makes it twice as hard. But who knows how things would have turned out?
I can’t and won’t write that if we all pull ourselves together, collect money, take them all to Russia/Germany/Israel, they’ll have a chance.

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“A matter of time”

About once a month, I sit down at the computer and don’t know what to write. You know that we’re helping cancer patients in Lugansk. Now only two of the “girls” whom we’ve been constantly assisting remain. The rest have left us…
My blog is a difficult read. Because it’s about war, about people who lost it all.
And on top of that there’s cancer.
You know, there is no need to exaggerate anything. Just the facts are enough.
These women have not received the needed treatment in time so now…They are dying.
They live in Lugansk, yes, where there’s a war on. Tiny social benefits. Not enough to buy food, let alone medications and tests.
And yes, you can’t write lovely paragraphs about how one could try a bit harder, collect a bit more money and take them to Rostov or Moscow, have an operation, and then there would be a chance.
No, these “girls” have no chances left.
So these posts are the least read. A black hole, when it comes to reader views. I realize that, but…
These patients really need financial support. Even more so than others.
They constantly need medications. Not just the chemo, though we bought that too since hospitals didn’t have it. Ordinary painkillers. They are needed all the time. And yes, thanks to all who read these posts. Thank you for your reposts, comments, and financial support!

Please label all contributions intended for cancer patients “cancer”.

Our Tanya.
How’s she doing?
Her breast was removed, had scans done.
Metastases in the spine. She’s had the fourth stage for a long time. Fighting to the last. Even smiles as best she can. Sometimes things turn for the better.
But all the doctors say the same thing–“a matter of time”.
But all of us, on the other side–“a matter of time”.

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They were abandoned

Eight of the people for whom we were caring and who were ill with cancer passed away during the past two years. I don’t know how to take this–is it many or a few? Probably many, considering that we did not help all that many cancer patients. We’re not a big foundation, we do not have a staff of paid workers and masses of volunteers. Nearly all the people we help are people about whom we found out by chance, through friends or through the Lugansk Aid Center.
I don’t know what the course of their illness would have looked like if it weren’t for the war. It’s possible they would not have it, or perhaps they would have. Who knows?
But I do know that the majority of them were not able to get the treatment they needed in time. There was not enough money for medications, no ability to see a doctor. Some of them became ill with cancer just when the fighting started or just before. During that initial phase the doctors may have been able to help. For example, Lilya, who had to hide in cellars with her son and worry about falling shells, when she needed to go to a cancer clinic. Ira, Inna, Lilya, Sofiya, all of them were in the terminal stage. We tried to help them as best we could, we fought together with them. Bought all the needed preparations which sometimes were hard to get, sometimes we made separate collections since they were not cheap. Paid for procedures, got them into the cancer ward even when it was nearly impossible. There are long waiting lists… We gave their medical histories to the best doctors in Moscow.
We even managed to get Sergey Balanov, a young cardiologist who saved people in Lugansk during the fighting and who himself had blood cancer, to Moscow with Irina Bednova’s help, but it did not help. Sergey died there.
We continue to help those who have no chance.
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The Last Chance

–Ira told me that there are people who help terminal cancer patients without any compensation. She gave me your number. I tried to take care of it myself but wasn’t able to.
We are in shock–Ira, our Ira, died in the Spring. This young and lovely girl with two small children passed away after a long struggle with cancer. We tried to help her in every way we could. But we did not succeed. We provided nearly everything she needed, including chemo preparations, but the cancer was stronger. Or maybe it was simply the war, which leaves people like Ira no chance of survival.
Overcoming such a disease under such stress…I know that if it weren’t for the war, Ira would have lived. I sense that. Only those who were in Lugansk understand what they lived through during the spring and summer of ’14. In the city that was being destroyed from all manner of weapons, including aircraft. I saw similar things in the besieged Pervomaysk in December 2014, and even though I was there only for a short time, I still haven’t gotten over it. But they lived there for months on end…
(To read more about Ira, click on the “Ira” tag at the end of the post)
The woman who called us is Sveta. She’s from Lugansk region, but lives in the Ukraine-occupied part. Not LPR. Her stepfather has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and a cyst on a kidney. He was throwing up for three days, and then he was told in the Lisichansk hospital he needs surgery, but there are neither medications nor surgeons available. He was advised to go to Lugansk, LPR. It as a program of “free assistance to compatriots”. Keep in mind, this program has existed for a long time, it treats EVERYONE who has a Ukrainian passport. FOR FREE. Yes, they lack certain types of preparations, instruments, but it’s FREE, and for many it’s salvation and the last chance. Therefore the Lugansk hospital’s cancer ward has a long waiting list.


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