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From Bulgaria to Indiana: Patient grateful for hospital care

IU Health North Hospital

From Bulgaria to Indiana: Patient grateful for hospital care

It was 28 years ago when Alexander (Alex) Lalov came to the United States. Now, as a patient at IU Health Schwarz Cancer Center, he reflects on his health and his life in the United States.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

Born and raised in Bulgaria, Alexander (Alex) Lalov moved more than 5,000 miles from his homeland to the United States. That was in 1995 when his family found themselves surrounded by a failing economy and escalating inflation. Seeking a brighter future, Lalov applied for a Diversity Visa and was one of 1,500 people selected from Bulgaria to come to the United States.

The Immigration Act of 1990 established the Diversity Visa Program where 55,000 immigrant visas became available in an annual lottery beginning in 1995. Bulgaria was among the first countries to participate in the program.

Over the years, Lalov raised two daughters in the United States, pursued a career in technical support for Circuit City Stores throughout the state, and pursued his hobby as a musician performing with Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He became a US Citizen in 2000.

Alexander Lalov

Five years before his citizenship, Lalov began experiencing urinary symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of an enlarged prostate. At IU Health, he underwent a Holmium laser enucleation of the prostate (HoLEP), a minimally invasive treatment that uses laser to remove tissue blocking the flow of urine through the prostate. His pathology reports showed prostate cancer. Since October 2020, Lalov has undergone several round of chemotherapy and continues with Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

“I try to take it one day at a time. I have felt the side effects of the chemotherapy - like neuropathy in my hands and feet. When I buy new shoes I can’t tell if they are comfortable or not,” said Lalov. “I have 13 steps to the second floor in my home and I have to stop to catch my breath.”

Throughout his treatments, Lalov said IU Health Schwarz Cancer Center feels like home. “I’ve been coming here so often that I’ve met so many people and know my medical team,” he said.

One way Lalov has met other patients is through the hospital’s Integrated Health Classes. Various programs are offered each month to help patients come together outside of their treatments. Programs include art therapy, stretching and stress relief exercises, and a fireside chat men’s group. Lalov has enjoyed the men’s group and also participates in the prostate cancer support group, the lymphedema support group and the healthy cooking classes.

“I try to attend on a regular basis. I really like the cooking class,” he said. “I feel like I’m contributing because I’m sharing recipes from my culture.” He has brought in fermented cabbage and spices to share with the group - special remembrances of his homeland served during the winter months with pork.

To learn more about the Integrated Health Classes, dates and times: Contact Ann Bredensteiner at 317-688-3395 or

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