President David Granger has been diagnosed with cancer – Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – in Cuba and a second phase of treatment began yesterday, according to a statement from Guyana’s Ambassador in Havana, Halim Majeed.
“Subsequent to a series of medical tests, the President was diagnosed as suffering from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and was placed in the Centro de Investigaciones Medico Quirurgicas (CIMEQ) on Thursday, November 1, where he underwent a surgical procedure,” Majeed said.
“On Tuesday, November 6, His Excellency, the President, was discharged from CIMEQ and returned to his official accommodation. The President’s medical personnel has now begun the second phase of treatment today, Wednesday, November 14, 2018, and he is likely to be placed in CIMEQ for a short period of two to three days,” it added.
Doctors expect him to make a full recovery after treatment, the statement said.
The statement came after days of questions about the state of the President’s health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout the body. In Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, tumours develop from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.
It says that “Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is more common than the other general type of lymphoma — Hodgkin lymphoma” and that many different subtypes of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma exist. “Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma are among the most common subtypes,” it states.
The statement did not say which type of the cancer the President has.
According to doctors, age is a huge risk factor in developing the cancer as persons over 60 years old are at an increased risk.
But there is good news for persons suffering with the cancer since medical research states that there have been “significant “advances in diagnosis and treatment of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma that have helped improve the prognosis for people with this disease”.
Giving an overview of the 73-year-old President’s stay on the island, the embassy informed that he arrived in Havana on Tuesday, October 30, initially, for a medical investigation “which he deemed necessary because of an unusual physical
The release said that Granger was received by a Cuban Medical Team which commenced the first phase of medical examination and thus diagnosed him with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
During Granger’s stay, according to the Guyana Embassy in Cuba, he had been working and resting in accordance with the advice he has been
receiving from his doctors.
“He is in fine form and a good frame of mind. He is expected to fully recover under the supervision of his doctors,” the release noted.
There have been concerns locally that the public has been kept in the dark about the extent of the President’s illness. Based on yesterday’s statement from the Guyana Embassy in Havana, questions have been raised as to why several trips to his longstanding doctor in Trinidad and Tobago did not lead to a decision for an investigation right in Port of Spain for cancer. Based on the statement, a cancer diagnosis was made by the Cuban doctors immediately on his arrival in Havana.
The president had a medical check-up in Trinidad and Tobago in May. It was announced by the Ministry of the Presidency that following that check-up he had been experiencing some “symptoms.” No reference was made to the type of symptoms he had been experiencing.
Shortly before his October 30th departure for Cuba, he had told a MoTP press team that he had travelled twice to Trinidad and Tobago, where he had done his annual medical check-up in May and had been given a clean bill of health.
“If I take you back over the last six months, I went to Trinidad and Tobago to do my annual medical examination which is normally done in August. I went in May because of the Congress of my party and the impending local government elections,” he was quoted as saying.
However, on his return to work, the President said that he started to experience certain symptoms, which were persistent, and he took the decision to travel back to Trinidad to revisit the tests that were done in May. His decision to return to Trinidad for further medical tests had not been communicated to the public.
“At that time, they discovered some symptoms which needed further investigation so I just agreed with that diagnosis and made arrangements to go to Cuba for further investigations. At this time, there is no clear indication of disorder or what the nature of the disorder is. It is a question of investigation and I think I can get the best advice in Cuba,” he stated.
While he does not suffer from a particular ailment, President Granger said on October 30th that out of an abundance of caution, he took the decision to travel to Cuba to have the relevant medical investigation done.
“The Guyanese public should be assured that once those investigations are complete they would be kept abreast with the health of the President of the Republic,” he said.
It had been said then that the President would return to the country on November 11 in time to vote for local government elections the following day. This was not to be.
On the 7th of November, the Department of Public Information issued an update on the President’s condition, informing that he was “resting comfortably at an official residence” following “an intensive series of tests by specialist doctors immediately after he arrived in Cuba on Tuesday, October 30, 2018.”
It said that he continued to receive treatment at Cuba’s Centro de Investigaciones Medico Quirugicas (CIMEQ) and responded satisfactorily. The press release of November 7th referred to treatment and medical interventions for the President whereas up to that point the public had only been told that he had proceeded to Cuba for a medical investigation.
In the statement yesterday from the Guyana Embassy in Havana, the President expressed, through the embassy, his appreciation for the outpouring of support he has had from Guyana’s citizenry and diaspora, regional and international leaders, his friends and colleagues and all other persons who had sent get well soon wishes and prayers for his complete recovery.
Singled out for high public praise from the Guyanese leader were the President of the Cuba, the Government of Cuba, and the medical staff of the hospital where he is staying, CIMEQ.
Cuba’s CIMEQ, located in the exclusive beach-based Siboney community of Havana, has some of the country’s most senior doctors, specialists and medical researchers attached to it.
While the embassy did not give an estimated timeframe for Granger’s return, it said that prior to his departure from Cuba, they will be issuing another statement.
It is unclear how much recuperation time the President may need and whether he may require follow-up treatment. The functions of President are currently being performed by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.