Iraqi-American Jewish musician and writer Loolwa Khazzoom, the leader of the band, Iraqis in Pajamas, will release a new single, “Cancer Is My Engine,” early next month. The song, which is in English and Hebrew, fuses fuses ancient Iraqi Jewish prayers with punk rock to tell a very personal story, chronicling Khazzoom’s journey to heal herself after a cancer diagnosis. The Iraqis in Pajamas front woman credits her return to writing and playing music with helping her to become healthy after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Her health improved dramatically after she founded the band in Seattle. The unusual name of the group, which also features Sean Sebastian on guitar and Robbie Morsehead on drums, comes from Khazzoom’s background. Whenever she stayed at her family home in Ramat Gan, where her father's side arrived as refugees from Iraq in 1950, people would ask her where she lived and when she told them, they would respond, “Ah, Iraqim bepajamama (Iraqis in pajamas).” That was because of a stereotype that Iraqi Jews would take off their street clothes as soon as they got home from work and would lounge around in their pajamas, and Khazzoom found this very funny. The Iraqi-punk fusion came together after she attended a traditional Sephardi Orthodox synagogue in Seattle but was put off by the congregation’s attitude toward women and left. Months later, close to the High Holy Days, she went to an open mic event at Columbia City Theater and announced that since the Sephardic synagogues didn’t want her praying audibly, because she was a woman, she was bringing the prayers to that club and belted out the Iraqi selihoth prayers. This experience inspired her to create Iraqis in Pajamas.The production of the new song was funded by the Lloyd Symington Foundation, which supports people living with and healing from cancer.“I had discovered on my own that there are all these different aspects of my life, and I actually made a list: How am I doing on the physical level, how am I doing on the emotional level, how am I doing on the spiritual level, how’s my diet, how’s my exercise?” she said in a promotional video released ahead of the song. She says her multi-dimensional approach has been the cornerstone of her healing.