My parents met while working in the American Embassy in Syria. I had a chemical accident when I was a baby, and we moved to Los Angeles, CA, for better medical care. I ate through a gastric tube for several years, then underwent monthly esophageal dilations while I was 13.
In June of 2000, at Children's Hospital of LA, I had the first experimental esophageal replacement surgery, where my entire esophagus was removed, and part of my colon was put in its place. It was a miraculous success. I am forever grateful to Dr. Stein, nurses Nego, Shery, San Chresting, and the entire CHLA staff and donor family.
I am running marathons and raising money for Children's Hospital, even though I had half of my left lung removed due to infection from chemical fumes during the industrial trauma in 1988. I ran track and cross country in high school, and took up boxing at 19. I made it all the way to Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, CA, and trained under Superman's expert mentorship as a member of Team USA Boxing.
Unfortunately, a career in incarceration replaced my boxing career, and my Olympic dreams were frozen by the reality of an extended prison winter. Knowing all of this helps you understand three things about me: the origins of my severe PTSD, my unshakeable faith in an omnipotent and benevolent higher power, and my insatiable desire to give away a life that was never mine to begin with in service.