Unique and
A story called Reza
When I first met Reza Khosravi at a local gym I had a feeling of unwavering stability and deep humanity. For me it wasn't mad love at the first sight - I just wanted to be with him; not do or even talk much, simply being was and is still enough.

Reza is originally from Iran; it was rather exotic for me, I didn't know much about Middle East countries. After spending a couple of hours exercising and swimming together, sensing Reza's caring nature, already outside I asked him, "Are you a doctor?"

"Yes", he replied.

"What kind?"

"An oral surgeon, basically a dentist."

Humbleness and minimalist have always been and I guess will always be his virtues.
Our dates were as romantic as riding a motorbike to the sea side and laying there looking at the sky. Or going to a flying club and taking off into the sky in a microlight.
Have you ever sat in a chair with wings attached to it in the open sky?

The sky is Reza's love. Every day is defined as a "flying day" or "not a flying day". For microlights in the UK, most of them are not flying days so for that reason Gap, near Marseille in France, was one of our first holiday destinations - where the flying weather is guaranteed almost every day or 330 days per year to be exact. Marcus Dalgetty from Pegasus is a remarkable flying instructor over there.
Skiing every winter is another Reza's favourite way of feeling alive, fit and experiencing fast
acceleration, openness and joy. I grew up in Siberia, Russia so cross country skiing was my second nature. However, to go up with Reza on blue, red and even once or twice on the black slops (!) I had to seriously exercise my courage. Reza is very patient with me but racing down the highest slops with his best friend Alexis from Grand Canaria certainly makes his spirit invigorated and very happy.

Trampolining (certified coach!), football and some other team sports are also Reza's passion to a semi-professional level.
Before I learnt all of the above at our first date, Reza told me that he had a rare form of cancer called Pseudomyxoma Peritonei - PMP. It originated in the appendix and then spread into the abdominal cavity. The same type of cancer took the life of beautiful Audrey Hepburn in January 1993.

Serious level of unprecedented tiredness was Reza's main symptom. Numerous visits to GPs in different cities where he lived and worked in England and Wales over several years did not lead to a diagnosis. Then in Norwich, after thorough examination, Reza's GP Dr Abraham George said, "I think I can feel a mass in your abdomen." And it was.

A scan or blood test would have picked it up years earlier.

Soon after the shocking diagnosis Reza had his first 10 hour operation at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, followed by the euphoria of being alive and appreciating life more than before. Reza was given the all clear and after a 6 month recovery he eagerly got back to work at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. He also joined the gym to build up his six pack and his strength, and that's when we met.
Living together
Reza's sense of valuing life and people deepened with the experience. I have never witnessed him judging anyone. "I can learn a lot from him or her", I repeatedly hear.

Reza's love for learning is infinite. He graduated from three universities (University of Liverpool, University of Manchester and UCLAN), has two master degrees, worked as a software programming engineer, dentist and a surgeon. Adding to that Reza has immaculate DIY skills and he renovated several houses.

Reza stayed clear from cancer for another year. We moved in together and I felt like I'd known him forever.

Reza said to me, "Pity we didn't meet earlier, we would have had 6 children". "Thank God we didn't meet earlier," my response was. I never pictured myself bringing up 6 children!

My daughter Dasha (one and the absolutely best) was 20 years old when Reza walked into our experiences adding quality and another dimension to our already eventful lives.
From being "not a dog person" Reza transformed into Ginger's number one fan, truly falling in love with her. Even Reza's mum, who lives close by, went from, "I will not eat food in the house with a dog so come to mine for dinner", to enjoying Ginger's company - bringing her fish skins and feeding her before sitting down with us for a meal.
Outside the box
I remember a day when Reza's tumour markers started to creep up and we went for an appointment with his outstanding surgeon, Mr Brendan Moran in Basingstoke. Mr Moran talked about possible debulking of mucin produced by cancer cells combined with intraoperative heated chemotherapy.

As a practicing Hypnotherapist and a lover of a natural approach I had been extensively researching non-main stream cancer cure methods and believed in going full on into benefitting from bending reality by meditation, latihan, CBD oil, frankincense, ayahuasca, juicing, soda, oxygen, sound and even chickpea therapies. I suggested different healers. I was finding people who cured their cancer with non traditional approaches. I was getting frustrated with Reza idolising conventional medicine based on heavy use of pharmaceutical products, his lack of interest in natural medicine and the emotional cause of the issue.

At this appointment I asked Mr Moran if he knew of any non traditional 'outside the box' solutions for Reza's recovery. "Together with the Oxford transplant team," his reply was, "we have done 5 bowel transplant operations for PMP patients, 2 of them survived, so it is a possibility."

I left his room furious. Ask a surgeon about an outside the box solution and he will come up with another, triple more complex surgery!!!

Little did I know that this will become THE way to save Reza's life.

While the tumour markers were acceleratively rising up we packed our lives with more I love yous, meaningful conversations, holidays, adventures and priceless time together. Ginger continued adding joy and fluffy cuddles to our lives.
My mum planned to visit us in August 2017. Two months before her arrival Reza proposed to me, "Shall we get married this August so your mum can be at our wedding?" It was as romantic as that. I didn't have a single doubt in my mind so of course I replied, "Yes". It was as easy as that.

It took me a few more weeks to digest what was happening. I started to prepare myself for some serious planning of our what turned out to be the most amazing day.

We said our vows at the Norwich Castle and had celebrations at the Norwich Cathedral surrounded by loving relatives and best friends. Ginger was our special guest too, her presence added even more love and joy.

Everything was just perfect: the weather, the atmosphere, the food, award winning local wine, flowers and even our first wedding dance "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran.

People we love and adore made our day truly magical.

Reza's friend Alexis and his wife Dina couldn't make it to our wedding so we arranged to meet them on our honeymoon in Bali.
Suicidal motorbiking to hundreds of temples, luxury of being together, being in love, swimming in the ocean, eating exotic food, watching sunsets. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

Bali is famous for its healers and I dragged Reza to visit a remotely located (two and a half hours one way drive!) natural healer - six times. At the end I felt that Reza did it more for me than for himself.
Tumour in Reza's belly was growing, becoming more and more visible like a pregnancy. He was feeling pain and, at first, he was unable to digest fibre and then less and less of anything taken orally.

Soon after we arrived home from Bali we got in touch with a private clinic in Jurmala, Latvia that specialised in "cancer cure" through Rigvir vaccine that encouraged the immune system to identify cancer cells and destroy them. This treatment is nationally approved for melanoma and is being tested on other types of cancer.

Reza was getting weaker each day and we were ready to try anything that would give us hope.

The most deliciously healthy food was served at the clinic but at that point, Reza could digest hardly anything and was spending most of the time in bed.

On daily basis Reza was receiving an injection of Rigvir vaccine, seen by a professor of oncology and different mindfulness and energy practitioners.

Warm sea breeze and tall dancing in the wind evergreen pine trees made the experience magical but not magical enough for a miracle of healing we were looking for.

The professor announced that Reza should organise his affairs as he doesn't have too many more months to live. Rigvir in his case will only make his last months more comfortable, we were told.

A week later and almost £10,000 less in the bank I brought Reza back to the UK in a wheel chair.
We had a special luggage with us of 5 tiny frozen ampules of Rigvir packed in the ice in the biggest suitcase imaginable to finish off the treatment.

To be fair to the vaccine, at the end of the treatment Reza's tumour markers temporarily decreased by 20%.

I felt that the professor believed in her own treatment less than I did. I wrote a respectful but strongly worded letter to the clinic pointing out that the professor was not God so perhaps giving out death sentences shall not be in her power.
Total parenteral nutrition
Soon after arriving back to Norwich in November 2017, Reza was admitted to Guist ward at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and was put on TPN - total parenteral nutrition or intravenous feeding.

Reza couldn't eat anything anymore and TPN was providing him with vital nutrition until a treatment may be found.
In January 2018 we were invited to the transplant centre at Oxford University Hospital to meet the surgeons and learn about the potential operation. We were told the operation would have to include two stages:

  1. Opening the abdomen, removing the large and small intestines and all the tumour mucin
  2. Transplanting a healthy bowel from a donor

It could take up to 15-18 hours and would be done by two main teams of surgeons. On the day when a suitable donor is found the first team from Basingstoke PMP Centre would arrive and complete the first stage of the operation, before the Oxford transplant team take over.

Reza would be the 9th patient in the world to have this operation. We were told that some made it through the operation and now enjoy a good quality of life, albeit after a long recovery. Their inspirational stories helped us to stay hopeful and positive. Adam Alderson, who was the 4th PMP bowel transplant patient, supported us along the way and even came to see Reza later in Oxford. Adam's story is here.

The first ever person who underwent this complex multi-visceral operation was former England rugby league player, Steve Prescott. He survived the 32-hour operation in 2013, but sadly died as a result of graft-versus-host-disease, a complication that can occur following transplants.
He was 39 years old. Steve Prescott's foundation can be supported here.

Since our first visit to the Oxford Hospital another 9 months followed. Reza continued being in and out of different hospitals, still working though and keeping active whenever he possibly could.
At some point Reza's abdomen literally burst and a river of pus and tumour came out. Nobody in the hospital has seen anything like that.

Then, at 10pm on a Saturday night in September 2018, just after listening to Abraham Hicks audio, Reza's phone rang. A nurse from the transplant centre invited us to come to the Oxford University Hospital - a potential match was found.

We drove that night to Oxford for Reza to have many necessary tests through the night.

At 7am Mr Reddy, one of the leading surgeons, who strongly doubted Reza's latest fitness level, told us they were pleased with the match and that they are going to go ahead with the operation. Being exhausted by the large tumour, feeling unwell with no energy, Reza was very happy to be put to sleep and hopefully wake up the next day cancer free. He was looking forward to getting strong again.

Reza's mum, my daughter Dasha and I spent what felt like a life time in the relative's waiting room praying for good news.

Six hours into the operation Mr Tom Cecil from Basingstoke and Mr Reddy came to say that the first part of the operation was competed - it all went well. Reza's condition was stable and now the small intestine was going to be transplanted.

The waiting hours were long.

At 10pm Mr Reddy comforted us by saying, "So far so good". The next step was going to be the insertion of a permanent piece of skin - a sentinel flap - from the donor onto Reza's arm to be able to visually observe the potential organ rejection.

At midnight Reza was moved from theatre to the intensive care unit (ICU) and we were able to see him the next morning. Two dedicated nurses were taking care of him around the clock.

As soon as the next day, Reza was taken for a walk and transferred to the transplant ward.

The process of recovery was bumpy. Another 2 hour operation had to be performed to clear old blood and clots which collected in the abdomen. Every day was difficult and different but Reza managed to maintain high spirit, endlessly repeating how happy he was.

Reza's mum and I took turns to support Reza daily. Reza also received weekly visits from his close friends and family.

The dedication of nurses, doctors and the most talented surgeons was phenomenal. It's not possible to name all outstanding people different origins and nationalities that saved my husband's life but here are some of them:
Mr Brendan Moran
Mr Tom Cecil
Mr Faheez Mohamed
Mr Srikanth Reddy
Mr Georgios Vrakas
Dr David Nasralla
Professor Peter Friend
Some exceptional Nurses: Jorge, Natali, Sergio, Katarina, Lovella, Alex, Sara, Ancy, Jose.
Simon Turley from the stoma team was kind and helpful beyond measure. According to Reza, "He is better than a rocket scientist".
Jo Roach, the transplant coordinator, in her unimaginably organised way, was making everything happen swimmingly and effectively.

We love you with all our hearts and we are eternally grateful for all that you are.

Marzanna was not just a tea lady, she is a colossal inspiration. She cured herself from the breast and lymphatic cancer with simple chickpea therapy and now shares this approach with anyone who is open.

We would also like to thank Dr Charlotte Pither, Professor Forbes and Norfolk and Norwich Guist ward for taking a good care of Reza while the way appeared for him to get well again.

Incredible support of the charities: Star Throwers , Big C , Maggies , Brundall based charity made an enormous difference on our journey.
Goodbye to Ginger
While Reza was in Oxford our Ginger immigrated to heaven. She had been adding joy and teaching us love for almost 16 years. We are better people because she had chosen us to be her family. We hope, powered by our love, she is running sprightly over the rainbows.
The future is bright
Reza is looking forward to returning to work to help people to be free from pain and have happy smiles. Times with more riding the bike, flying the microlight and adventures close and far are coming our way. Life's just got better as our appreciation of life, each other and everything around us have scaled to the sky.

Reza could not eat for 11 months and I was privileged to see him start to taste the deliciousness of life again, appreciating every single bite.

"I have lost some bad diseased organs and have been given so much more. I was lucky to have the disease, it gave me time to think differently. I am richer because of that experience," says Reza.

We prayed for a miracle and we were lucky to hear the "miracle" word many times on that journey of recovery.

We all still pray for the soul of the person and his family, who made a prodigious decision to donate his organs. We hope that he meets Ginger in heaven and benefits from loving her as much as we do, and forever will.

Life took us to places where there were many, not just good, but exceptional people.

Reza is now recovering gingerly after the operation. Our hearts are full of gratitude for all heroes and miracle workers who day after day pretend to be ordinary.

We pray for more peace, kindness and love on the planet Earth as we strongly believe that every single soul deserves it.

Life is worth living.
Everything happens
for our highest good.
The future is bright.
Irina & Reza with love

Life is worth living.
Everything happens
for our highest good.
The future is bright.
Irina & Reza with love
Written by Irina Valentino
Edited by Dasha

Doctors' names mentioned with their consents
Here are some:
"What an amazing piece of work with fabulous pictures. I am honoured and flattered to be mentioned and the whole piece is amazing." Mr Moran

"Mr Cecil has said that he is happy for you to use his name in the article and he sends his best wishes to Reza,"
Sharon, Pseudomyxoma Pathway Co-ordinator

"This is an amazing article! Very well written and detailed description of an amazing journey!
All the best and I am glad Reza is doing so well!!" Mr Vrakas

"I am more than happy for you to mention me in the article. It is very kind of you, and your words mean a lot, thank you...
Mr Reddy has consented for his name to be used in the article." Jo Roach, Transplant Coordinator

Post transplant update - 4 months
Reza is doing really well, and the word 'miracle' we keep hearing every time we meet surgeons and doctors for check ups. We are truly blessed being greatly looked after.

Reza was extremely careful with his diet after the operation, especially fibre caused discomfort.
It was also a challenge to keep the body well hydrated. Now things have become much easier and his energy level is higher.

Languages, music, spirituality and comedies are his current interests. He is learning Russian and French and has already got a violin to learn to play.

Reza is in a constant state of appreciation, he is now even deeper, wiser and funnier. "Life is a comedy," his favourite motto at the moment. It is a privilege to be with such a remarkable person and witness the transformation on many levels.

Reza is planning to return to part time work to help people with his outstanding dental & surgical skills. He is also choosing a new motorbike, car and a microlight. Boys will always love their toys!

Pictures below: Reza with two amazing men, bowel transplant surgeons who literally saved his life, Mr Srikanth Reddy and Mr Georgios Vrakas, at the bowel transplant conference in Oxford on 2nd February 2019; and us in frosty Norfolk the next day.

Please keep warm, stay healthy and uplifted, we really appreciate every soul on our journey.

You can contact us on
Irina's number +44 7877141692
e-mail: irina@irinavalentino.com
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