Dr. Victor ‘Vic’ Gozali.

A Victor of life & love
FAMILY JEWELS - Michelle Dayrit-Soliven (The Philippine Star) - December 2, 2017 - 4:00pm

There are heaven-sent superheroes in our midst. They are sent to us by God in the form of people who have overcome many obstacles, received miracles and gathered immense strength from being able to rise above their own pain.

These superheroes aim to save lives as well as create better lives for those they encounter. It is their lifelong advocacy to give back. Like our Lord’s servants in the Parable of the Talents, they are faithful stewards who continue to share their gifts so generously with others in order to please their heavenly master. 

Let me tell you about my superhero — a surgeon filled with compassion named Dr. Victor  “Vic” Gozali.

Born in Jakarta to Indonesian parents who raised him in a loving, prayerful environment, Victor, the eldest of four, grew up as a nurturer of his younger siblings. One day, while running around, this playful boy had a bad fall. He was 12 and thinking it was nothing, picked himself up and did not feel the need to tell his parents about it. He was perfectly fine until six years later, he woke up one day unable to walk.  He was a bright and active teenager at the prime of his youth. His parents were devastated. They took him to the best spine and orthopedic specialists but none of them could make him walk. Vic went to school on crutches, studied diligently, continued to pray with unwavering faith and never complained.

One day, a nun invited Vic to go on a 14-day healing retreat. Before proceeding to the convent venue, his parents reminded him, “Victor, if nothing happens on this retreat, please do not turn your back on God.” He firmly assured them that this would never happen. Despite his debilitating condition, his young heart was still loaded with faith. Lo and behold, what happened next was a miracle. During the retreat, he was able to stand up and walk. The journey of his miraculous recovery began. It wasn’t easy because after almost a year of not walking, his legs had atrophied so badly. They were extremely weak, wobbly and shook so terribly. But Victor, filled with spiritual fervor and grace, was only too grateful. He persevered through every single step in order to regain the use of his legs. He succeeded and put away his crutches.

This life-changing experience had such a compelling impact on him. He wanted to become a doctor and decided to pursue medical studies at the University of Santo Tomas because he believed in the quality of education in the Philippines. He sought his father’s blessing, who, upon agreeing, gave him some money and parted with a few family treasured diamonds and handed them to Vic to finance his education and necessary living expenses. Victor rented a simple apartment in Manila and went through the rigors of medical school far away from his Indonesian family. One day, somebody broke into his rented place, opened his safe and took everything in it. Vic was unfazed. He went to a pharmaceutical firm and offered to sell its products. He had to work doubly hard, persevere in his studies and tighten his belt. He was able to finish medical school.

Doctors Vic and Baby Gozali with their children Kara, Armand, David and Cristina.

After those strenuous years of lengthy study, he was eager and ready to practice. However, he could not get his license to practice as a doctor in the Philippines because of his citizenship. One solution was to give up his Indonesian citizenship in order to fulfill his dream. He did it and never looked back. God, whom he always consulted, clearly had a plan for him. 

While doing his residency at Makati Medical Center, he fell madly in love with a very lovely pediatric resident, Lourdes “Baby” Martinez, who was destined to become his wife. Their union was blessed with four wonderful children: Kara, 25, a Medicine student at UST; Armand, 23, is at UP Law School; David, 22, who takes up Business Administration at UP; and Kristina, 20, who takes up Life Sciences at the Ateneo.

My husband Benny and I met the Gozalis in 1998 because our sons were schoolmates in preschool. So charmed were we by their family that we easily became friends. In 1999, Baby was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. They were all shocked. Baby and the kids broke down when they heard the news. Vic lovingly gathered them around him and said, “Don’t worry. From now on, our lives will change. For the better. Why? Because we will all stick together. Every day we will pray harder. We will take even better care of each other. We will love each other more.”

After her treatment, their tears of terror and fear turned into joyful gratitude to God as Baby survived. And this praying family emerged stronger, closer, happier. Life for them became even better than it ever was before. (Baby is a two-time cancer survivor because she also had lung cancer in 2013.)  

In 2012, I was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer. The news reached Baby through prayerful friends. She immediately called me, “Michelle, please come to the clinic. We want to help you. Vic is now the head of the Cancer Center of Makati Med.”  Vic came quickly to our rescue. He led me and my family through this cancer journey. He held our hands every step of the way with Baby showering us with words of wisdom, encouragement, prayers and support. He knew how to calm down my excitable family and guided my husband in making the right decisions. He attended all my chemo sessions, which turned into parties. He performed my double mastectomy, removed all the affected lymph nodes and visited me every night in the hospital. He was an engaging storyteller and life coach. I followed his advice to share my joyful story to give hope to others.

In many ways, Vic is our superhero. He saved my only son Vincent from a rapturing appendix. He even performed a very delicate thyroid surgery on our loyal, longtime nanny Josie. He humbly acknowledges the power of prayer before each surgery. “I cannot do it without praying since it is God who guides my hands every single time,” he says.

Very recently, Vic’s family and friends gave him a surprise 60th birthday party.

To express their love to the man they are all so proud to call their dad, the Gozali children surprised him with their very own production numbers.

Victor’s advice to his children: “Make one person happy each day and you make 365 people happy in a year.” He always tells them: “Never give up. Keep believing in the power of prayer. Miracles do happen.”

Dr. Victor Gozali is an obedient son to his parents, deeply loved by all his siblings, nephews and nieces. This compassionate man is a successful surgeon, a great leader and mentor, a devoted husband and father, a loving boss, a caring friend. Victor is much sought out for valuable advice and practical solutions. His strength of character and wisdom are culled from lifelong experiences and a very deep sense of spirituality. 

He is a true Victor of life and love.

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)

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