Lord, please add some of my life to my cancer patient.”
That was Dr. Godofredo Caringal Godoy’s prayer for a patient who had become close to him.
“I know I shouldn’t feel like this. I know that there are other patients who need me. That was my realization,” he told Inquirer Science/Health in a recent interview at the Makati Medical Center.
As Godoy, 46, made his rounds in the hospital accompanied by this writer, he was greeted by a patient at the corridor, along with an update of the patient’s travel plans. The medical staff in the cafeteria smiled at him as he approached the table.
‘Most Appreciated Physician’
Godoy, an active medical consultant, recently earned his third consecutive “Most Appreciated Physician” title from MMC (his first was in 2011). The award is based on votes gathered from 2,148 employees and 828 medical staff of MMC.
Godoy was also chosen one of the models of the hospital’s “Malasakit” campaign for compassionate care, service excellence, competence and sympathy. Elevator-sized posters showing him looking thoughtfully at a patient have been put up at various parts of the building.
Rolando L. Justo, a trial lawyer and a regular patient of Godoy, describes him in a written feedback:
“Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that old people bring out a different sort of perspiration—rheumatism, insomnia, allergy, caprice, doubt, avarice. As an old person, I have my own cardiologist. But for the rest of my perspiration—real or imagined—I bring them to Dr. Godoy. He accepts them all, and cures them all.
“He is the quintessential healer—confident, well-read, caring, perceptive and immersed in the needs of his patients. I have trusted him for almost 20 years, and between you and me, that is a lot of trust. He does not keep dispensing anodynes to simply ease suffering. He searches for that right cure, and thus gives the patient a measured return to health.”
Evangeline del Mundo also writes of Godoy: “At age 71, I had a cerebrovascular accident, although I am now primarily handled by a neurologist, Dr. Godoy continues to be my primary physician and my gatekeeper in terms of my medical needs and care. I am blessed and feel fortunate to have someone like him. Among my many blessings in life, I consider him as one of them. Not only do I have a very good doctor, I have a great doctor and a five star at that.”
Dr. Hilda Teodoro Rabago, pediatrician and past president of Makati Medical Society and an active medical staff, observed that Godoy would start his day by attending the daily morning mass prior to seeing his patients.
“He is able to make difficult patients follow his order without alienating the patient nor the relatives. He can explain your illness explicitly well, giving the reason for certain workups and medications needed. He is very friendly, jolly, punctual and caring, humble and never arrogant,” she added.
Born and raised in Oriental Mindoro, Godoy grew up in a large family. He has seven siblings. His father was a farmer-businessman who owned a rice mill, while his mother was a homemaker. Both passed away five years ago.
When Godoy was young, he wanted to be a radio technician.
During his elementary school days, his father repeatedly declared that Godoy would be a doctor someday. “It stuck in my mind that I had to be a doctor for my father,” he said.
Perhaps influenced by his father’s expectations, Godoy concentrated on doing well in his science subjects. “My father told me to just finish my pre-medicine course, and then I should decide. My pre-med was BS Zoology, and it was not easy.”
After finishing pre-med, Godoy recalled he could not turn his back on a medical course. He had 10 zoology subjects, and it involved the memorization of different kinds of animals, as well as the scientific terms for every animal. Godoy quipped that he still knows the name of every worm and its subclass.
“When I entered the medical course, I found it easy, but there was never a subject on empathy there,” Godoy mused.
“My empathy with patients may be explained partly by my feeling that this is my calling. Doctors, for a time, are also patients, so I know how it feels to be a patient,” he added.
For Godoy, being a physician is humanitarian service and a calling. “I tell my nephews and nieces that if they aim to be rich, don’t take a medical course.”
Before ending the interview, Godoy handed over an image of the Child Jesus of Prague and a bottle of holy water from the Lourdes of France to this writer, the prescription and treatment from the Ultimate Healer.