Why Cally poet Kass has sights set on Serbia for his MS therapy
- Credit: Archant
Poet and MS sufferer Kassim Hammami, 30, is looking to Serbia for a ground breaking new therapy. Tom Dare caught up with Kass to find out more about his life.
As Kassim Hammami begins reciting one of his latest poems, it’s easy to get lost in the words and forget what you know about the man speaking them.
The lyrics, while deep and meaningful, don’t hint toward the remarkable journey this young man, still just 30, has been through.
In 2002, at the age of 16, Kass was diagnosed with Multiple-Sclerosis (MS). The disease attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and can result in a range of symptoms, both physical and mental.
Being hit with that bombshell at such a young age would have been enough to send most people off the rails, such is the devastating nature of the disease. But for Kass, it has always been about looking forward, not back.
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“The way I see it is I’m just living my life daily,” he says from his home opposite Caledonian Road station. “All I’m doing is just enjoying myself and doing what I do.”
Despite his diagnosis, Kass goes from strength to strength. From being nominated for leading learner of the year in his time at City and Islington College, to studying psychology at London Metropolitan University, Kass has never stopped to dwell on the adversity he has faced.
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But his true passion is spoken word and poetry. His room is covered with pictures of his performances and “life goal” posters, which he says help remind him what he’s fighting for. And it’s through spoken word that he has been able to best express himself.
“I’m a performer and I’m quite well known on the London spoken word scene,” he says. “I’m a musical poet and I’ve been performing for the past six or seven years. I feel in a way that I’m part of a growing and thriving community of poets, which really helps me.
“My last show was a fundraising concert. I started this fundraising last month and I’ve managed to raise nearly £5,000 now, from that and private contributions.”
And what is he fundraising for? Since his diagnosis, Kass has constantly been on the lookout for new ways to manage his condition, from dietary changes to learning martial arts.
The latest of these is stem cell therapy, a rapidly growing form of treatment aimed at growing new cells where they are needed in the body. “Recently I found out a bit about this stem cell therapy being offered in Serbia,” he says. “Basically it’s a very revolutionary therapy – they are able to use minimal manipulative methods along with an injection of stem cells to help people like me regain mobility.”
So for the last few months Kass has been trying to spread the word about his fundraising. He has performed at Islington Town Hall and City Hall, to name just a couple, and is intent on reaching his target. Kass hopes the money he raises will help him live a less restrictive lifestyle, and eventually return to university to pursue his goals.
Kass’s brother, Sam, has recently moved in with him, and sums up Kass’s approach to life perfectly: “Kass is inspirational.”
“Every time I wake up and I go to work, all I’m seeing is these little pictures and signs around me,” he tells the Gazette. “It’s like an extra boost. He wants to be known independently, not feel like he needs help. No matter what the challenges or stresses he just goes above it and still wants to do it, and still pushes himself over the line.”
To find out more about Kass, and to give to his fundraising effort, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/kassim-hammami-1