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Clinical Psychologist Tries To Hold On To Hope


Dr. Saeed Behshid is a 70-year-old clinical psychologist who in 1961, moved from his home in Iran to the hustle and bustle of New York City. A highly intelligent man, Dr. Behshid worked as a banker in New York City for two years before moving to the warmer West Coast of California. In the mid 1970s, Dr. Behshid began attending classes at Cal State University in Los Angeles and the U.S. International University in San Diego. He earned his doctor of clinical psychology in the late 1970s and was soon passionately treating his patients. Helping people to understand themselves and successfully navigate their lives was a duty Dr. Behshid volunteered for, a job he loved.

It was not long before Dr. Behshid focused his practice on treating young patients, specifically juveniles. His name was well known and respected in the juvenile correctional facilities in Norwalk and Camarillo, California. He took extreme pride, care, and patience with his "kids."

Even though Dr. Behshid's job was demanding, in the summer of 2004, he began feeling unusually run down and tired. He decided to meet with his doctors and underwent a cardiac workup including a cardiac stress test. The results of the test were normal but months passed and he still did not feel well. In December 2004, Dr. Behshid returned to his doctors complaining of shortness of breath, a cough, fatigue, low energy, and occasional night sweats.

Diagnosing the Problem
His doctors in Ventura, California decided to perform a thoracotomy to look into his chest. Tests performed on the removed tissue returned a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. Dr. Behshid and his wife, Zahra had never before heard of mesothelioma and they, along with their children Sima, Mike, and Susie, jumped on the Internet to begin researching on their own. The family discovered Dr. Robert Cameron at the UCLA Medical Center and in January met with Dr. Cameron to discuss treatment options. After reviewing his records, Dr. Cameron felt Dr. Behshid was an excellent candidate for a pleurectomy with decortication.

On March 17, 2005, Dr. Cameron performed a right-sided pleurectomy with decortication at the UCLA Medical Center. In this surgical procedure, Dr. Cameron chisels the visible tumor away from the lungs and ribs. This process does not rid the chest cavity completely of the tumor, only the visible portions. Dr. Cameron usually follows this procedure with chemotherapy or radiation to fully eradicate the cancer.

Unfortunately, surgeons can not tell how extensive a tumor can be until the surgery begins and Dr. Cameron found that Dr. Behshid's cancer was extensive and had affected some lymph nodes and surrounding muscles around his ribs. However, even though the surgery went well, Dr. Behshid developed complications in his left lung, the "good" lung.

As the left lung scarred, Dr. Behshid's breathing became more labored and he was put on a ventilator. He remained hospitalized for nearly three months, after which he spent an additional month recovering at the Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles.

A Painful Recovery
The family was finally able to bring Dr. Behshid home in July, but his recovery continues to be slow. To help the family, Mike quit his job in the financial and accounting field and moved in with his parents.

Dr. Saeed Behshid's surgical scars November 16, 2006
Mrs. Behshid and her son cared for him every single minute of the day. Mike has not left the house since July 2005. The burden was insurmountable for Mrs. Behshid who suffered a stress induced heart-attack and passed away on October 11, 2005.

Mike has had no rest at all since that terrible day. He makes sure his father is comfortable every night, changes the ventilator, cleans his trachea tube, bathes, massages, feeds, and sits by his bed each night for at least two hours to make sure nothing malfunctions. Mike usually gets to sleep around 3:00 a.m. and then for only three or four hours. His sisters usually try to relieve him from his surveillance around 7:00 a.m. so that Mike can get some rest. They like him to try to sleep until 9:30 or 10:00.

In November 2006, a CT scan revealed the cancer had returned. Dr. Behshid will begin chemotherapy treatments by the end of January 2007. His spirit remains positive and he is surrounded by his loving family. He continues to eat three regular meals a day but is tube fed at night. Dr. Behshid gets out of bed when he is able to walk around the house and enjoy his patios. In addition, the family takes him on outings when he is up to it.

The entire family has been affected by the cancer. Mike and Simi had to give up their town homes and residences and put their belongings in storage. Simi moved back home to help Mike. She still tries to balance work, but may have to request a medical leave of absence.

According to Susie, "I wouldn't wish this life on our worst enemy. No family should ever have to go through this much pain and anguish." They all lean on each other for support.

** POSTED JANUARY 11, 2007 **