KEYWORDS:

TUMOUR: an abnormal growth resulting from uncontrolled multiplication of cells

 

PATHOLOGICAL: relating to or caused by disease

 

OPHTHALMOLOGY: a branch of medicine dealing with the structure, functions, and diseases of the eye

Cecil Cyrus (Date of Birth: 6th Jan 1929)

Caribbean Icons in STI Vol 1

Dr. Cecil Cyrus is considered a St. Vincent hero who improved the health and welfare of his countrymen. He strongly believes in “making do” and devised new tools to facilitate his surgical work. For his medical book, “A Clinical and Pathological Atlas: The Records of a Surgeon in St. Vincent, The West Indies”, he was awarded the Master of Surgery degree from Queen’s University, Belfast.

Arthur Cecil Cyrus was born on January 6th 1929 in Layou, St. Vincent. As a boy, he learnt that the visiting district doctor tended,”only those with a shilling”. This social inequality inspired him to become a doctor. He attended Layou Government School, Kingstown Anglican School and later St. Vincent Boys’ Grammar School. He taught himself the science subjects for Cambridge examinations and in record time, obtained distinctions in chemistry and biology and a pass in physics.

In 1950 he entered Queen’s University in Ireland. He was the first overseas student to win the Symington Medal in Anatomy among other prizes. He gained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) of England and Edinburgh. He specialised in other areas of medicine before returning home in 1963.

Dr. Cyrus was appointed Consultant Surgeon to the Colonial Hospital. In spite of shortages of staff, equipment, and basic facilities, he worked tirelessly to clear the patient backlog. The island’s first trained surgeon, he did the work of many specialists to restore dignity to patients affected by disfiguring tumors and sores. He obtained diplomas in ophthalmology and obstetrics and opened the private Botanic Hospital in 1976.

Over 25 years, he recorded the diversity and grossness of diseases in a collection of photographs, specimens and x-ray images. After retirement (2001), he converted his clinic into the “Dr. Cecil Cyrus Museum” to display part of his collection and unique medical instruments.

Dr. Cyrus introduced squash to St. Vincent in 1966 and supported its promotion. He sponsored with his wife the first Caribbean Junior Championships. St. Vincent produced several regional champions and the International Olympic Committee specially commended him for his efforts.

He received other awards including the Order of the British Empire and the Companion of the Most Excellent Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG). A former Deputy Governor-General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he was honoured by the Pan American Health Organisation and his image appears on a commemorative stamp. he keeps active, delivering public lectures and publishing medical papers.