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There is hope

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by John Davis

Guam's only Oncologist, Dr. Sam Friedman will be returning to Guam after taking time off to battle his own ailments and overseeing a dear friends treatment.  While Dr. Friedman was away, the ability to provide cancer treatment on island was in limbo after the Guam Board of Medical Examiners denied Dr. Friedman's replacement issuance of an emergency medical license.  For thousands for cancer patients looking to receive cancer treatment on Guam, Dr. Friedman's return is a blessing more than it is a curse.

I've had the chance to chat with Dr. Friedman through email after he made his decision to return to Guam.  His treatment went fairly well, treatment for his dear friend from Guam is still undergoing complicated and intense therapy.  Dr. Friedman's dear friend is still recovering, but progress has been made after undergoing three major surgeries.  His friend will require cyber-knife therapy after healing from the surgeries.

Although service to cancer patients was not interrupted during his absence because Dr. Friedman made arrangements to continue chemotherapy on all actively treated patients, he does say he is acquiring the services of an American trained oncology associate so he will no longer be subject to 60 hour work weeks considering he is still on a cocktail of 6 different medications for his extreme hypertension.

Before Dr. Friedman left and made his decision to shut down operations at the Cancer Center of Guam, he was frustrated with a lack of assistance from within the medical professional community.  His replacement Oncologist could not get a emergency medical license and no one acted to approve it in an emergency fashion.  Upon the GBME's approval of the license, the replacement oncologist said he had changed his mind about filling in for Dr. Friedman because of all the negative attention the issue brought to light.

Upon Dr. Friedman's return home, he is hoping for compassion from our local community, specifically the GBME.  Friedman walks the line of politics on Guam in a neutral fashion, but says Senator, Frank Aguon Jr. and Senator Eddie Baza Calvo have been a great support to him.  Friedman will return to the island and start seeing patients before the end of this month.  He says patients who have regular follow-up appointments can certainly make an appointment to be seen shortly after his return.

Understanding Dr. Friedman is hopeful the island's medical community will pitch in to make much needed changes to the way healthcare services are provided on Guam, the only thing that alarms me regarding Dr. Friedman's return home is a statement that was made by our Governor, Felix P. Camacho.  The governor told KUAM NEWS “If he's got complaints, that's his problem.  We've done our best. And I think it's a disservice for him to say that about government officials." 

Governor Camacho also told KUAM that what's important is cancer treatment will continue to the benefit of hundreds here who can continue the battle against cancer.

I say, “Governor, we have not done our best and what our government is doing to keep cancer patient care ongoing isn't even close to it.”  If we were doing our best, a replacement oncologist would have been hired and I would have never had to write the article called, Help Wanted: Oncologist.  It was with help of Guam physicians, not the government that kept patient care ongoing. 

Many cancer patients who were able to receive cancer treatment during Dr. Friedman's absence can thank the use of a new medical technology called telemedicine, they do not owe thanks to the Camacho Administration or the GBME.

Moving forward, we must dare to look back governor, make changes to medical mistakes that have been made and ensure that in a worse case scenario, our medical system will not falter and cancer patients will not have to dig into their already thin pockets and leave island.  Remember, until you leave office, your pockets will continue to get fatter and your legacy will continue to be "Loss of Hope" and deep pockets filled with cash.  What do you think your father would do for his people? Do that.

His legacy remains strong. I wish I could say the same for yours.

The views and opinions expressed in KUAM Columns do not necessarily reflect those of Pacific Telestations, Inc. or its advertisers

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