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Dr Cyrus’ CHRC Acceptance Speech



ACCEPTANCE SPEECH on receiving an award from the Caribbean Health Research Council at its Fifty-Fourth Annual Scientific Conference, for his Outstanding Contribution to Health Research in the Caribbean in the Area of Surgery

By Dr. A. C. Cyrus


Mr. Master of Ceremonies, ladies and gentlemen, it is with humility and heartfelt gratitude that I acknowledge the generosity of the CHRC in honouring me for my contribution to our noble profession.{{more}}

In July 2008, awaiting with trepidation at Gatwick Airport my return flight home, as I carried my wife’s many duty-free purchases, I had the fortunate distraction of reading on a poster the profound quotation “I am who I am because of everyone else.” How appropriate, for I earned this honour you have bestowed on me through the help of numerous persons during my 38 years of practice in St Vincent. Foremost were my wonderful patients who were not just passive contributors by virtue of their ailments, but participated in other ways. They were not only pleased to be photographed but to have their pictures and morbid specimens exhibited in my clinical presentations, Atlas and museum.

Special thanks to all the nurses, especially those of the old Colonial Hospital, who worked willingly and happily for long, tiring, financially thankless hours, not only as nurses, but as surgical assistants, junior doctors and even anaesthetists, thereby evoking from me at a symposium for the CCMRC in Tortola in 1987 on Special problems of isolated practitioners the quotation that “A good nurse is worth her weight in clinical gold.”

During the 13 years that, of necessity, I had to practice in my own little private Botanic Hospital, my colleague was my wife, who filled a multiplicity of roles, including those of Principal Nursing Officer, and even doctor at times. Without her uncomplaining dedication, most of my medical work would not have been achievable. When I worked at the Colonial Hospital, she was patient and understanding regarding the long, ungodly hours that I was away from home, leaving her with a succession of young children.

I was able to share my medical experiences with regional colleagues and gain the attention of the now CHRC because the former Commonwealth Caribbean Medical Research Council do graciously accepted my 19 papers. And so, it is with much gratitude that I salute that august body, your predecessor in name.


Mr. Chairman, please permit me the temerity, if not impudence to address just a few words of advice to the fledgling doctors in the audience:

1. Do not be afraid to challenge and depart from time-honoured dogmas in the management of your patients.

2. Do not rely mainly on machines for your diagnoses, for they must complement, not supplant clinical perception.

3. When faced with the lack of basic equipment and facilities, do not throw up your arms in despair, but, rather, improvise and learn to make do with what is available, for that will teach resourcefulness and spawn the satisfaction of fulfillment.

4. Do not abandon hope for your critically ill patients, but, rather, commune in quiet with, and seek the help and inspiration of that “Good and Kindly Presence” because miracles do happen, for, as that medical sage, Sir William Osler, reassures, “There is no never, no always.”


In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I have reaped a medical harvest richer than gold, both tangible and intangible. Notable is the avenue which our noble profession provided for me to formulate and evolve the three ruling philosophies of my life, so beautifully enunciated in the words of the Latin author, Terence, “Homo sum, nil humani alienum a me puto.” I am a man and nothing human is foreign to me;” of the Roman philosopher Seneca, “He that does good to another man, does also good to himself; not only in the consequence, but in the very act of doing it; for the consciousness of well-doing is an ample reward;” and, from the unlikeliest of sources, a Zimmer orthopaedic catalogue, “Life is beautiful. To preserve it is beautiful.” My richest reward is that, through the numerous pregnancies that I monitored and the many vaginal deliveries I conducted, I learnt reverence for motherhood, the potential of motherhood, nay, womanhood; for a vaginal delivery must rank as one of the true wonders of the world. Combine this with the vital role of the mother in nurturing and bringing up their children and the structuring of the homes and lives of us men, their spouses, I cannot but place women on a pedestal, worshipping them not as my inferiors or my equals, but my SUPERIORS.

Many thanks for your kind audience and forbearance.