OSHAG mourns passing of Dr. Theophilus Lewis
Death never fails to make us review what life is all about; how precious it is and sometimes how undervalued it is by some of us. How fragile is this life we live, when we are here today and gone tomorrow?
For almost two decades Dr. Theophilus Lewis an American oncologist, has been coming to Guyana with Organisation for Social and Health Advancement for Guyana (OSHAG) in the month October-cancer awareness month, giving yeoman humanitarian service.
From the beginning of the establishment of OSHAG in 2002 Dr. Lewis was passionate in his support and given of his skills as an oncologist surgeon by performing numerous surgeries whenever he and the team of doctors came on their annual humanitarian journeys to Guyana in support of the service OSHAG offered to Guyana.
Whether in the training on new strategies in nursing education in Georgetown, New Amsterdam and Charles Rosa School of Nursing, he was there in support, in the donation of an AC unit to the Oncology department of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) OR collaborating to help ensure that cancer patients have access to treatment and are educated about preventative measures, or in the opening of an OSHAG office in Georgetown Dr Lewis was a driving force behind those initiatives.
Improvising to perform surgery
Doctors are intrigued by the possibility of participating in humanitarian work in underserved countries. However, the desire to serve is often tempered by some ambivalence about whether their skill sets are applicable in less technologically advanced health-care settings. With Dr Lewis he just fit in. Evident on one of his several trips to Guyana: The team came of the plane and made their way to the New Amsterdam Hospital, where they were scheduled to see patients and perform surgeries the next day. Just as they arrived at the hospital to survey where they were going to work the following day, a man came into the emergency unit with multiple stab wounds, Dr. Lewis and his team, without skipping a beat realised that in order to save the man’s life they had to perform emergency surgery. They immediately improvised using plastic bags to cover their shoes, donned scrubs and gloves and went into the theatre to perform hours of lifesaving surgery- Dr. Lewis and his team saved that patient’s life. He was so comfortable doing what he did best, using his skills as surgeon to save lives; helping mainly women stricken with the scourge of breast cancer.
Death is the great equaliser for there is no regard for age, colour, class, creed, social status or material wealth. Death surely will visit every one of us sometime. We know no knowledge when or how, for it is a circumstance that very few of us have or can take control of. That is why this has been a shocking blow to all who knew Dr Lewis, loved him, worked with him and those he has so unselfishly helped.
To those of us who knew him and were aware of how he traversed the road of life, he has enriched the lives of many, facilitated the healing of many with his skills as an oncologist surgeon, his bedside manner, his engaging manner when presenting information to create awareness and educate the Guyanese public on how they can better prevent cancer and how persons can access cancer treatment, if they are diagnosed with cancer. He was the Doctor with a mission, whose goal was to prevent cancer and to help those afflicted to heal. It was always a learning experience about cancer, whether the presentation was given at the given at the National Library in Georgetown, or at the University of Guyana, Tain Campus on the Corentyne. Many Guyanese will have a bank of memories of his leadership, achievements, and example that will live forever.
In the words of the great philosopher Aristotle, “man is at his best when he is doing his best at what he likes doing best”. Dr Lewis, father, brother, son, oncologist surgeon has been called to higher service, after he has lived his life in service of others. He leaves behind a legacy of honesty, integrity, fairness, compassion and loyalty. May his soul Rest in Peace and rise in glory.
The Organization for Social and Health Advancement for Guyana is a charitable organization that benefits cancer patients in Guyana. This organization was founded in 2000 to bring about awareness because of the need for cancer treatment, medical services and health care enhanced training for medical professionals in the various disciplines of health care delivery.