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Sad Christmas

Natasha’s 17-year-old niece Katya, who has been fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma for over half a year, has passed away last night in Rostov. We knew that she has not been doing well lately, and one of the main reasons for Natasha’s trip was that she knew she might not get another chance to see her, but still, her death came as a shock. The year ended on the saddest note possible.



This picture is of a couple of years ago – somehow seems fitting…


At a time like this, the irrational impulse is to ask, Why?… Clearly, a terrible disease can befall anyone, and whether you believe that fate is blind or that everything happens for a reason, you can only hope that something like this does not happen to you or your loved ones. But Hodgkin’s happens to be one of the most curable forms of cancer, with fatality rate amounting to mere 7%. How does a heretofore healthy young woman succumbs to such minuscule negative odds and makes the list of less than twenty thousand people who die from this disease annually in the whole wide world!?

With an assist from post-Soviet medical care, that’s how! When the hospital is bereft of any reasonable resources, when you have to bring your own medicine to treatment, when the intensive care unit stays without any air conditioning for weeks in the scorching summer heat, when the conditions are unsanitary enough to cause regular viral outbreaks on the hospital floors… What you get is simply reverse odds.

And the standard of care… The parents are not allowed to spend the night with their child in the ICU, and she passes away at 1am in the night; they call the hospital at seven in the morning to find out how she is doing, and hear Let me check… Oh, she died…

I want to be reasonable and say that this can happen anywhere, but it’s hard for me to stay reasonable. I cannot imagine conditions like these in an American hospital. I only can imagine it happening in a Third World country.

While the level of medical care is abysmal, the Russian government is going to be spending untold billions of gas-revenue dollars to organize effing winter Olympics. If you ever wonder why I so despise the country of my birth, you hardly have to look any further.

But it would be poor memorial to Katya if I honored her memory with an impotent rant against what Russia has become…

So, here is to a beautiful young woman who was loved and loving, who had many aspirations and was only starting on the path to adulthood. Rest in peace, dear. You will be in our hearts forever.

Posted in Family Album


  1. Kravchenko

    Our dear friends,
    Shock and sadness.
    For the family to loose a child?!
    We grieve over your loss and want to share all our love and compassion during these hard times…
    Try to be strong – your children need it.
    We love you all.

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