Amidst the global pandemic, volunteer cast and crew drove in from across Washington state, donning masks and practicing social distancing, to film against the backdrop of the stunning Olympic Peninsula forest – for Iraqis in Pajamas’ music video, “Cancer Is My Engine.” The video tells the story of frontwoman Loolwa Khazzoom’s choice to approach a 2010 thyroid cancer diagnosis as an opportunity for healing and transforming her life on every level. Through measures such as radically altering her diet, Khazzoom cold-stopped the growth of the nodules, which remained stable for five years. Ultimately, her healing journey led her back to her lost love of music and to Washington state, where she launched Iraqis in Pajamas – combining original alternative rock with the Iraqi Jewish prayers of her indigenous Middle Eastern heritage. Months after her band launch, the thyroid nodules began shrinking.
Khazzoom rejected the conventional thyroidectomy treatment for thyroid cancer, despite extreme pressure – including a doctor telling her that she would die if she did not get surgery, and medical insurance refusing to cover anything but conventional treatment. The cancer diagnosis additionally came on the heels of a debilitating auditory injury that had unraveled Khazzoom’s life and left her on the verge of homelessness, amplifying the pressure she faced while making her decision.
Sean Sebastian: Director
Loolwa Khazzoom, Sean Sebastian, Robbie Morsehead: Writers
Sean Sebastian: Producer
Sean Sebastian “Insurance Agent”
Robbie Morsehead “Doctor”
Festival status: Winner> Best First Music Video