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Pain pump allows Karmanos patient to realize his dream of opening museum in Lebanon

Hassan Majed, right, is pictured with his son, Mohamad Majed

For Hassan Majed, prostate cancer has not held him back from accomplishing one of the major goals of his lifetime.

With the assistance of a pain pump, Majed, 81, a retired tailor from Dearborn Heights, was able to realize his dream of returning to his hometown of Kherbet Selem in southern Lebanon, to open up a museum that features many of the beautiful antiques he has collected over the last six to seven years.

“The opening of my museum was a dream come true,” he said. “I had planned for this for the last several years, but with the advancement of my disease in the last couple of years, I was not sure it was going to come true.”

Majed was originally diagnosed with colon cancer in 1984 and then diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1987. He was originally treated in the early 1990s by Edson Pontes, M.D., who is a professor of Urology with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Hassan Majed, 81, of Dearborn Heights, cuts the ribbon on his “Village Museum” in Kherbet Selem, Lebanon. Majed, a prostate cancer patient at Karmanos, was able to travel to Lebanon to open his museum thanks to the installation of a pain pump. The museum features many of the beautiful antiques he has collected over the last seven years.

Majed underwent a prostatectomy and hormone therapy. His prostate cancer progressed, however, and he was referred to Ulka Vaishampayan, M.D., leader of the Genitourinary Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos. He was then put on a clinical trial for a novel oral hormone therapy at Karmanos to treat his disease.

Majed was originally on oral medications for pain management but the high doses required to manage his cancer pain made him sleepy and unable to function adequately, according to Carol Strong, RN, BSN, pain management coordinator for Karmanos.

Majed was referred to Karmanos’ Pain Clinic and he was determined to be a good candidate for an intraspinal pain pump installation.

“When medication is given directly into the space between the spine and the membrane that covers it, via an implanted system that comes with a catheter and pump, smaller doses of the medication are required to achieve greater pain relief and there is a decrease in the adverse side effects,” Strong said. “Mr. Majed could receive better pain relief with fewer side effects and therefore experience a better quality of life.”

To determine if the pain pump would be effective, Majed first underwent a trial under the supervision of Walid Osta, M.D., an anesthesiologist with Karmanos. At the trial, Dr. Osta injected a small amount of the planned infusion medication into the space between the membrane and the spine and Majed was monitored for pain relief and any adverse side effects.

The trial was successful and he was implanted with the pain pump in March of this year. His oral pain medications were decreased as his pain pump infusions were gradually increased. He was able to completely stop his oral pain medications and experienced improved pain relief, according to Strong.

“Having the pain pump installed was the best thing I did,” Majed said. “It decreased the pain medication needed to be taken orally to control my pain and with that, it decreased the side effects associated with it. This allowed me to be more alert, free and able to travel and do what I want to do.”

That meant that over the summer, Majed travelled to Lebanon to open “The Village Museum,” which features a wide variety of his personally-owned antiques reflecting the lives of the Lebanese people. The collection includes antique agriculture equipment, typewriters, household items, decorative art, clothing, watches, a 1929 Ford Phaeton -- the type of vehicle used as a taxi at that time Majed was growing up in Lebanon, horse carriages and other items. Museum admission is free and is geared toward educating children and the public.

Majed also has plans to expand the building that he acquired for the museum four years ago. Because so many of his hometown neighbors have given items for the museum, he finds he needs to expand upwards.

“Since I opened the museum last summer, many people loved the idea of it and have donated items to be placed in the museum to promote the vision I have, which is to familiarize the next generation on how their parents and grandparents lived,” Majed said.

Majed said his experience at Karmanos has been a positive one. His experience shows that anti-cancer therapy and symptom management therapy need to go hand in hand to help the patient.

“Karmanos medical staff is attentive to my needs and more than willing to help in anything I need to make me feel better and make what I am going through easier,” he said. “I want to thank the doctors at Karmanos, especially Dr. Pontes, Dr. Vaishampayan and Dr. Osta. I also want to thank the nurses and staff, especially Karmanos Staff Nurse Kelly Meilink and Carol Strong, who all were and continue to be instrumental in my well being.

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