This blog is partly to dispel a myth that has developed over the last four months and partly to recognise and give credit to an army of people who played parts in helping get through the first two battles with cancer and may well play further parts in any subsequent battles that surely lay ahead.

Let us start with the myth.  I have been told I am dignified, brave, an inspiration, a legend, and with courage that very few people possess on this earth.  Flattering as these adjectives might be, I genuinely and humbly disagree with them all.  This does not mean I categorise myself as a sniveling coward who lacks the basic attributes to recognise a difficult situation and carry on blindly until I fall off the edge of life.  At best, I would say I am somewhat above average in being able to deal with life’s challenges with all the necessary thought processes and dignity I can muster, while relying on those around me who happen to be better informed, or experts in the subject matter.

Why do I say that?  Well yes, I am the one who was diagnosed with cancer and my own life was on the line.  That was an inescapable fact and I had to seek help from others who were qualified and/or equipped to help me.  I was extremely lucky to find many, many of those individuals who were ready to help me. My role thereafter was simply to let go and put myself in their hands; that’s hardly dignified, brave, or an inspirational role.  The alternative would have been foolish in the extreme.

So, for the rest of this blog, I will consider myself the ‘object’ of the story and all the others were the main subjects or actors who sought to get me better.  As a proof to my claim that I did very little during this experience, I actually had enough time and inclination to narrate the experience to you via this blog!  I doubt very much that any of the doctors or Claire would have had the time to do so.  Those of you who read ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold would understand this point because the young teenager who narrates the story is murdered from the outset and describes to the reader how her murderer was slowly finally apprehended by all the active subject of the story. Here is a list of all the amazing people to whom I am indebted for their help and support in their various capacities.


  • Claire: By far and away, Claire has been the principal player in this drama.  From the moment it was confirmed that I had cancer, she took full charge of my life with confidence, determination, energy and above all, love.  She took an open-ended leave of absence from her own job in England and left her beloved dog Maggie with a trusted friend.  Thereafter, she organised, directed, edited, filtered, communicated and executed as though she had done this kind of thing many times before. She provided the extra glue to our nuclear family and made sure they were constantly aware of what was going on and they trusted her completely in this regard.  When cancer was confirmed, I went to school on the subject, trying to understand the nature and long-term prognosis of Cholangiocarcinoma.  Claire however, went straight to university and acquired a PhD on the subject within days.  She researched the Internet for basic and non-basic information; joined various chat groups who are/were going through the same experience as us; asked questions of any qualified medical person such as our long-term GP and friend, Anton Borg and our son-in-law Nabil; and she went around the American Medical Center stalking surgeons and doctors involved in my case urging them to explain things to her.  Every day, without fail, she drove from Limassol to Nicosia to spend hours on end by my side, she went to the airport countless times to collect or drop family visitors, she drove all over Nicosia looking for food I may have fancied that day. Not once, did I see her falter, complain or breakdown.  Maybe once, I detected a fleeting moment of frustration in her eyes and it could not have lasted more than 2 seconds.  I could be wrong on this one.
  • Leila, Rosy, and Faye: My three beloved daughters, who have their own busy lives to lead, started this journey by disobeying my wishes not to come to Cyprus until I had had the operation.  When I opened my eyes after the long operation, there they were, the three of them standing at the foot of the bed, flanked by Claire on one side and their uncle Samir on the other.  My heart leapt with joy!  Since then, they have been visiting Cyprus on regular basis to spend a long weekend to keep Claire and me company and give us moral and actual support.  In between, they kept in constant daily contact asking about my general health but also demanded minute details of how my various stats are doing.  Their love, which was evident before, now came pouring like a flood and I am so grateful they are my daughters.
  • Nabil, Kirk, and Adam: my daughters’ partners who also stepped up to the mark and provided their partners with the moral support and space to dedicate more time to my condition.  They also visited Cyprus to see me and spend time with us all.  As a paediatric nephrologist, Nabil brushed up on his medical knowledge and established a regular contact with the medical team at the American Medical Center so that he could understand what was happening and provide Claire and me with clear interpretation of what was happening.  He continues to do that to this day.
  • My Brother Samir: Samir almost made the list of Angels in Blog ‘ONE – Angels’.  The reason he didn’t is because I know him so well and he would go around boasting to everyone he is an angel, and no one would be able to live with him after that. However, Samir is one of those rare types who once he takes on a task, he will not let go until it is done to his high and exacting standards.  Samir and I have been close for many, many years and his role in this drama is born out of both siblinghood but mainly out of friendship.  He was the reference point to our extended family such as brothers, sisters, nieces, cousins and so on.  He travelled between Jordan and Cyprus multiple times to be on the scene and reassure himself that I was getting better.  He completely took control of communications between the hospital and the health insurance company and literally made sure Claire and I did not have to deal the occasional complex and protracted bureaucracy. During the recovery from the operation, Samir was heavily involved in organizing his youngest daughter Sara in Cyprus (just a coincidence).  Needless to say, my situation made matters more difficult for him and his family. When I had the multiple procedure failures, which I covered in the previous blog, he and Hana were dealing with the highly emotional process of seeing his eldest daughter Mais and her family emigrate to Australia.  In both cases, he never failed once to call or write on daily basis demanding updates on my health and asking if there was anything he could do.  I will be forever indebted to Samir.
  • Samir’s Family: Hana and daughters Mais, Samar and Sara have always been close to me and my family.  They were affected by my illness very deeply and went out of their way to keep regular contact with us including multiple visits by Hana and a visit by Mais and her lovely husband Muhammed who left their young children with the grandparents and came to spend a long weekend with Claire and me in Cyprus. This was done in the middle of their hectic emigration preparation.  Samar is due to come back on a winter vacation from the USA and she plans to come and visit early in the new year.  What a family, I love them so much.
  • My Brother Tawfik & Family: in his quiet and non-dramatic way, Tawfik kept in regular contact, making sure I was ok and came to Cyprus with his family, my dear friend Amal, their daughter Lama and son Khalil to visit.  He even urged his son Khalil to visit again for a couple of days in November. Their eldest daughter Rula who lives in California sent many messages of love and support.  I love you all.
  • My Sister Nawal& Family: Nawal has the biggest heart of anyone I know. When she heard of my illness, she initially went to pieces but soon after that she started to prepare to come to Cyprus immediately.  It took quite an effort on Samir’s part to stop her from doing that. Soon after the operation, and as soon as I had enough energy to speak to anyone on the phone, it was Nawal I called. Just hearing her tortured and emotional voice on the other end sent me in to convulsive weeping like a little boy. Nawal, husband Hani and their eldest son Ahmad with his new bride came to visit me in hospital.  Her husband Hani and her daughters all made contact with me on regular basis wishing me well.  Thank you Nawal and Family, I love you all.
  • My Sister Najwa: In spite of her her own challenges in Jerusalem, Najwa came to visit me in hospital with her daughter Nadia. Since then, she has kept regular contact by phone, by text, always asking how I am and reassured herself I was on the mend.  Thank you Najwa and family, I love you.
  • Caroline and Pedro Aloy:Caroline is Claire’s big sister and together with her husband Pedro, we have been close for many, many years. Caroline and Pedro have been in regular contact and visited us in Cyprus in December 2018.  Caroline in particular has been an avid follower of the ‘Fighting Cancer’ blog from the outset and always sent feedback of encouragement and support.  We love them dearly.
  • Charlotte El-Titi and Family:Charlotte is Claire’s second big sister and has equally been close to us so far back, I dare not mention the number of years.  In fact, I first met Claire while visiting Charlotte and Her husband Aref, whom I had known back in Palestine.  Charlotte has also been following my blog and gave regular feedback. Tariq is Charlotte’s eldest son and he has been a friend of mine for many years.  He reached out from Dubai to enquire after my health.  Nadia, also known to us as Noodles, is Charlotte’s youngest and has always been close to Claire, the girls and me.  She kept in regular contact with Claire and the girls, called me on many occasions and finally in November came to visit us in Cyprus, leaving her husband to care for their three little children. We love you all.
  • Liz Vaughn:is Claire’s fourth sister who kept regular contact with Claire and wrote a very flattering and encouraging comments on my blog. Thank you, Liz.
  • Cathy Cheeseman:is Claire’s third sister who has major health issues of her own.  Nevertheless, she kept contact with Claire with good wishes and support.  I hope you will be well soon Cathy.


  • Annita and Mehran Eftekhar:they have been our closest friends in Cyprus for the last 11 years.  This friendship really proved to be genuine from the moment they heard of my illness.  Mehran, who is also a colleague at work, took it upon himself to be the source of information to all staff and business associates, making sure that people did not flood Claire and me with constant, but well-meaning, enquiries and questions. Annita was the main reference point to Claire, especially in the early days of my illness.  No task was too small or too big for Annita, she dealt with everything in her usual efficient manner.  Mehran and Annita regularly, almost daily in Annita’s case, visited Claire and me at the hospital in Nicosia.  This kind of friendship is a rarity and should be treasured; which we do.
  • Christos and Nikki Christodoulou:Christos is also a work colleague and he and his wife Nikki became friends of hours about 9 years ago.  As they live in Nicosia, and no more than 5-minute drive from the hospital, they literally opened their house to Claire, my daughters and Samir to stay there for as long or as often as it was necessary.  They visited us in hospital and somehow managed to sneak into the ICU, on a number of occasions, just to stand outside the room and wave to me from a distance.
  • Chris Georgiades:a friend of many years, and one of the busiest men I know as he is the managing partner of one of the biggest law firms in Cyprus. He arranged for me to see oncologist Professor Zamboglou within 30 minutes of finding out I had possible cancer.  He then drove with me to the oncology hospital and stayed with me for the duration of the consultancy with the professor.  Since then, Chris kept in regular contact.  George, Chris’ son is the COO of the oncology center and he has been extremely helpful and attentive. Thank you, guys.
  • George Mountis:I have only known George for four years or so but, he proved to be a very caring and persistent follower of every twist and turn of my progress.  He is extremely busy, always on the move, but somehow or another he kept in touch by phone when abroad or personal visits when back in Cyprus.  He always asked if he could do anything to help at a practical level and never failed to disappoint.  He even managed to get me to have a Hollywood-priced private grooming at the hospital.  George, you are one truly special friend.
  • Ghazi, Hind, Kamel and Reem Abunahl:the last few months have been very challenging to this family who own our Group.  In spite of that, they kept in regular contact and visited me at home.  In spite of the fact that I am actually leaving the Group in February, Chairman Ghazi has been generous and willing to help, reassuring me that he was always ready to help in anyway he could. I will always remember this attitude towards my family and me.
  • Antony Georgaki: In a way, Antony is likeSamir, they are task-masters; what they take on gets done to the highest standards they set for the task.  From the start, Antony reached out to Annita asking if he could make direct contact with Claire and me and offered his help in anyway possible. We have relied on Antony to do so many things for us and he always went out of his way to deliver.  Antony has been a truly genuine and valuable supporter on so many different levels, we will always be grateful to him for being there for us.
  • Hasan Kojok:a work colleague and a friend based between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon has kept in regular contact by phone or WhatsApp, and came to visit me every time he came to Cyprus.  Thank you, Hasan for caring so much and we will make that trip in the beautiful Lebanon countryside, I promise.
  • Anna & Dimitris Provata, Despina Tsangari, and Elena Christopher:To begin with, these people by-passed the rule set by Mehran and reached out to Claire and me offering help.  We took them up on their offer on many, many occasions and they never failed to provide this help.  We are grateful for their breaking the rule and for actually living up to their willingness to help.
  • Other work colleagues:so many of them came to visit me at home when I was released.  Thank you all for caring, we really appreciate it.  I will make an exception and mention one name:  Mrs. Maro who has taken up the task of a weekly housekeeping at my place.  For 3 years she did a brilliant job and when we leave Cyprus, I will be particularly sad. She took my illness to heart as though I was her own brother.  I love this honest, dignified and generous person.
  • Anton Borg:as mentioned earlier, Anton started out as a family GP and soon we became family friends, with our children going to school together in Gloucestershire.  Anton kept in regular contact with Claire, asking for medical updates and where necessary gave Claire additional information or questions to ask the medical team at the hospital.  Anton and his wife Sarah came to visit us in Cyprus in December 2018. Anton examined me the night they arrived and insisted we go back to hospital because he could see worrying signs. I don’t know if I should thank him or kill him!
  • Osama and Rula Kawwa Family:they are friends of Samir and his family and have known each other for over 20 years. Somehow, my family squeezed in and we became friends too!  They are the most loving, giving, heart-warming people you would wish to meet. They visited me in Cyprus and follow my progress very closely. 
  • Jeremy Drew: a friend for over 25 years, very loyal, supportive andlacks sense of occasion! The moment he heard I had cancer, ha called me to demand I go back straight to work and not be such a lazy bastard.  I was not grateful for him making me laugh so soon after the operation.  Since then he has been in regular contactsaying he found me jobs as coalminer,toilet cleaner, etc.  Wait and see Jeremy, wait and see.
  • Rick Bolandz:Also, an old friend from the USA who makes Jeremy look like the most sensitive soul on earth.  Rick too bombarded me with emails and messages mostly to prove that I am really trying to draw attention to myself.  He also likes to send obscene jokes and pictures just for the hell of it. I guess we need the crazies in our lives.
  • Laura Jones & Henry George:I met Laura, who is Claire’s work colleague, maybe three or four times and each time very briefly. Yet, since Claire left work on 28 August, Laura has looked after our sixth member of the family, Maggie the dog, whom we adore and so does Laura.  This could have been a huge distraction for us but thanks to Laura, Maggie is healthy, happy and contented.  I wish there were many more Laura’s in this world.  Maggie is an office dog who went to work with Claire every day.  All staff at Henry George Estate agents love her. Since Claire’s departure, the boss Robert has been generous and tolerant of this unusual situation.  My sincere thanks to everyone at Henry George for all your support and positive messages.
  • Martina Richt:back in England, we became acquainted with Martina through our school children.  We lost contact over the years until she found out about my illness so, she reached out to us offering to provide moral and practical support. Thank you, Martina.
  • Many Other Friends:too many to mention by name, including ones I had lost contact with for many years, who reached out and wished me speedy recovery.  I am grateful to you all.

Medical Specialists:

  • Dr. Constantinos Kyriakou: he is the cardiologist who performs my annual checkup and the one who discovered the first sign that my liver was not functioning properly.  He persisted and made me do further checkups until the tumour was located within 3 weeks of his initial suspicions.  Thank you, Dr. Constantinos, had you not persisted with me, I might have been in much bigger trouble as a result.
  • Professor Nikos Zamboglou: a renowned oncologist throughout Europe, he recently opened the German Oncology Center in Limassol.  Once he was certain I had cancer, he arranged for me to see Dr. Petrou in Nicosia on the same day.  Since then, he kept in touch with the medical team in Nicosia and the plan he has is to take over my case once the surgical side of my treatment is concluded. He and his medical team in Limassol are professional and compassionate and I will always be grateful to all of them, especially the remarkable professor.
  • Dr. Athanasis Petrou: the senior surgeon who cleared his theatre commitments in order to operate on me within three days of meeting me for the first time.  For the next three months, I saw him on an almost daily basis when he would come to my room and give me the latest development on my state of health, good or bad, but always with optimism and encouragement. A remarkable surgeon and human being who also has a taste for jazzy socks like me.
  • Dr. Kyriakos Patatas: he is the Interventional Radiologist responsible for performing all the intricate procedures by inserting needles and thin tubes through your body and applying stents inside arteries, plug leaking holes etc.  Dr. Patatats caused me more pain than any other medical person simply because he could not always insert his long needles when I was under sedation or even anesthetics. I complained, made my views and feelings rudely and on one occasion, subjected him to a stream of profanities as I came round from heavy sedation after another failed attempt to plug the bile leak.  He always kept his cool and mild manner and took my often bad attitude in his stride. On reflection, Dr. Patatas has been instrumental in helping me recover from the long and protracted fight to apply the final stent after 7 long and unpleasant procedures.  I will always be grateful to him.
  • DrIoannis Kiamakliotis: I call him Dr. K and he is a rock star of Gastroenterology who joined the team to go through my stomach and identify the source of the leak, which he did and placed a temporary solution in preparation for the next two procedures.  He was eccentric, funny, talked fast, asked lots of relevant and irrelevant questions and breezed in and out without the usual hi and bye.  He also took it upon himself to call me at odd hours to ask how I was doing, or how I was feeling, from his car, his home and on one occasion from a farm where he was upstaged by a goat who kept interrupting his stream of questions.  Without doubt, he was a master of his craft and I am very grateful to him.
  • All Other Medical Staff (at the American Medical Center & the German Oncology Center): there are so many other people who were extremely kind and attentive to me over the three months, from doctors, to radiologists, to nurses and auxiliary nurses.  There must be over 100 of those wonderful people and I am eternally thankful to them all.

My next blog is the final one and I hope you still have patience to stick around and read it.  Thank you for your continued support and readership.