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Roman Perez-Soler, M.D.Chairman, Department of Oncology
Dr. Perez-Soler is an internationally recognized expert in the development of new anticancer therapies and new delivery systems for anticancer agents, with a particular focus on lung cancer. Over the years, he has been involved in the development in many of the new antitumor agents including the topoisomerase I inhibitiors, taxanes, new nucleoside analogs, non-cross resistant platinum compounds, and more recently the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors and proteasome inhibitors.
Memorial Tribute to Dr. Charles D. Kelman"Kelman Dedication" by Roman Perez-Soler, M.D., Chairman
Department of Oncology, Montefiore Medical Center
Albert Einstein, College of Medicine
A Memorial Tribute was held at the St. James Theatre on Broadway in New York City on September 13, 2004 to celebrate the life of Charles D. Kelman, M.D. world renown ophthalmologist, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1999. Roman Perez-Soler, who was a trusted friend and medical advisor to Dr. Kelman, delivered the following presentation:
"He was a charming, creative, out of the box thinker, the real type of eccentric that the world is so short of. I wish I could be as eccentric as he was, to see what most others cannot, or do not have the courage to see. He would listen but only follow his instinct, always convinced he knew better; very suspicious of the establishment, because he knew the world is full of experts by appointment, whose main talent or merit is not their knowledge but how to get appointed to be the official experts.
"I met him under really funny and quite unique circumstances. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer and told that there was basically no hope. He desperately needed good news. Somebody at NYU gave him my name. I was flying to New York from Florida and he volunteered to pick me up at the airport in a limo. He told me over the phone he was famous but not in a pompous way. I was really curious.
"At the baggage claim I saw a sign with my name and assumed the man greeting me was the limo driver. Obviously not. That was him.
"He showed me his films in the limo and I genuinely reacted to his case with optimism. He read I believed there was a real chance the end was not so close. Actually, I thought and happened to be more right than wrong, that the case was quite favorable. He knew right away I was not faking just to comfort him and avoid the drama associated with giving bad news. I guess he discovered I could provide a medicine he needed: optimism. He obviously wanted me to be his Doctor of Optimism, not his oncologist; he already had good Doctors of Cancer. But that is not what I do for a living.
"The fact of the matter is that he was a natural winner and got what he wanted this time too. But the reason is because we became good friends. This happens rarely in the medical profession, as we Doctors in general are suspicious of patients that want to become our friends. We tend to see it as an assault to our right to privacy. But Charlie was different. My feelings for him were really deep, a combination of admiration for his nature and personality, medical accomplishments, diverse artistic talents, and profound sympathy and affection for his condition as a sick person.
"I am thankful I had the opportunity to get to know him as he had an impact on my life and feel comforted thinking I could relieve his suffering an anxiety from time to time.
"Lung cancer took his life and this gives me an opportunity to tell all of you how huge a problem this is: just imagine the two World Trade Center towers falling every week in a different state in this country, 2,500 deaths x 52= 130,000, still short of the 150,000 annual deaths due to this disease. Let's use Charlie's ability to see what the majority does not see. Let's put our efforts and resources in eccentrics like Charlie Kelman and start saving lives rather than sacrificing more lives of young and innocent people."
Through My Eyes The Charlie Kelman Story
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