Guam - The Marriott hosted the first Guam is Good Cancer Symposium was held this past Sunday on Tumon Bay. It was a forum organized by the Edward M. Calvo Cancer Foundation that brought together a variety of speakers covering a litany of issues for patients, family members, healthcare practitioners, and non-profit organizations.
Learned experts from medical, legal and social work fields spoke alongside support groups, cosmetologists, artists, beauticians, fitness instructors and parents about some of the ways to cope with and manage cancer.
Delivering the keynote was Dr. Brad Zeback from the University of Michigan, himself a cancer survivor, who shared the story of his struggle and understanding, and what having gone through the process taught him. He announced, "Another metaphor I love is the phoenix, the mythical bird that rises out of the ashes of destruction. We've gone through the emotional devastation of being told that we have cancer. But there is a metamorphosis, there is a change that can occur that can be quite beautiful."
One of the more engaging sessions was a talk on estate planning and the importance of establishing a structure for your assets, as a means of avoiding having to make very difficult decisions under the added duress of a loved one dealing with cancer, or when a patient may not be able to make such decisions on their own. Local attorney Mickey Flynn said, "A guardianship is a setup that occurred when you cannot determine what to do with your own assets while you are still alive. Or you cannot make decisions about your own person - your healthcare, your medical needs, your housing, your general personal care. In that event, someone would need, on your behalf, to go to court, and obtain a court order stating that someone has been appointed as the guardian of your estate, which has all of your assets, or is the guardian or your person, so your personal needs have been addressed."
Genny Leon Guerrero Garrett, the mother of the late Natasha Leon Guerrero, recalled her daughter's touching courage and unbreakable character, even while undergoing treatment. "I celebrated every day. My wish for my daughter, my goal, was that every day would be a perfect day. That was my wish. I worked very hard to make every day be a perfect day," she shared. "Each night when she went to sleep - she slept right beside me - I would ask her ‘How was your day?' And I would say, 99.99% of the time she would say it was a perfect day."
Several of the talks dealt with therapy techniques, such as finger painting and yoga, and hands-on demonstrations of wig-weaving.
Attendees left the conference armed with two incredibly powerful weapons to use against the dreaded disease: information and community. "We started talking about quality of life, and some of you have been painting, some of you have been flexing your bodies, some of you have been shedding tears, some of you have been thinking deeply. It's been a tremendous day," Dr. Zeback added.
If you missed the Guam is Good Cancer Symposium, you can catch the broadcast on KUAM-TV in the near future, so make sure to check out program listings.