Loolwa Khazoom is one of the most uniquely powerful and creative people I have ever met. She has been a friend, a consultant, a colleague, and a patient at different times. I recall her experience with thyroid cancer and the remarkable intelligence, research, and deep thoughtfulness she put into making her decisions about treatment. In her case, she decided to go with an intensive immersion in natural healing, involving dietary changes, deep mind/body/spirit work, dance, and natural remedies. She’s obviously been successful, as this is now her tenth year living well and having no progression or spread of cancer; and all credit goes to her and her fierce belief in following the life that her deep soul guides her in. This song and video, “Cancer is my Engine,” is just a taste of the passion and commitment that Loolwa brings not only to her healing, but to everything she does.
Decisions in cancer care are complex, and very deeply personal. Some cancers respond well to conventional treatments and others do not. Some people respond well to conventional treatment while others cannot tolerate them. Every person is unique, and every cancer is also unique. Loolwa’s story does not mean that everyone should choose natural cancer treatment as an alternative to conventional treatment, but it does mean that we should open our hearts and minds to the remarkable healing abilities we each have within us, and learn to nourish them, so that whatever course we choose in our cancer journey, we are an active agent rather than a passive bystander.”
Pay attention to Loolwa Khazzoom, especially if you ever had cancer. Music and dance became her path to healing, along with a robust program of organic foods, botanicals, and nutrients. I am a medical oncologist and hematologist who worked with Ms. Khazzoom as a patient from 2012 to 2014, and watched her large malignant thyroid nodules (Hurthle cell tumor) stabilize as she found her voice, and made cancer her engine, as the song goes.
To me, cancer represents not an enemy, but a call for transformation. Loolwa transformed her life profoundly, followed her intuition wherever it took her, and healing was the result. The joy that this transformation brought into her life is in every breath of her music, in every tone of her chants, in the fluid movements of her dancing (in which she had found healing from chronic pain, which preceded her healing from thyroid cancer). We can all learn from Loolwa Khazzoom. And enjoy her music.
Although her nodules have become significantly smaller over the years, they have waxed and waned, in direct correlation to the amount of stress vs the amount of joy in her life. Loolwa has learned to use them as a “biomarker” feedback system – telling her when she is “on course” or “off course.” In her own words, “You can live a healthy, vibrant, and joyful life, even if cancer is still there somewhere. So that you’re not living well despite cancer, but you’re living well because of cancer.” Cancer has become not only her engine, but also her life navigation system.
Loolwa is a force of nature. It’s no surprise to us that the cancer wilted beneath her phenomenal presence and no wonder also, that her courageous heart expresses itself so eloquently in the hurricane of her gritty music.
The Flying Camel provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on an unjustly neglected identity and to see it through the eyes of those who have lived it. It is certainly true that the lives of Jewish women from the Arabic-speaking world are unknown to too many in our society and that our understanding of questions of Arab, Jewish, and American identities are diminished by our ignorance. I find this book useful in the courses I teach on questions of identity and ethics in the contemporary world.
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Professor of Afro-American Studies and Philosophy
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Iraqis in Pajamas song, “Cancer Is My Engine,” is the soundtrack for the epigenetics revolution. This soulful music, inspirational lyrics, and captivating music video awaken us to the fact that with a positive mindset and healthy lifestyle choices, we can heal ourselves from chronic illness, no matter what our genetic predisposition. Through her bold decision to follow her heart through a cancer diagnosis, songwriter Loolwa Khazzoom is now living proof that music is truly medicine and that with the right mindset, a cancer diagnosis can serve as the portal to an extraordinary life.
“Cancer Is My Engine” is a wonderful story about our body’s tremendous ability to heal—if we give it a chance.
“Cancer Is my Engine” showcases the story that with true resilience and faith, one can conquer anything – including illness. It’s the only true direction to healthcare: self-care. It’s the Hippocratic Way!