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Renowned surgeon publishes new book

Renowned surgeon  publishes new book


The vast experience gained over the 38 years of medical service in the life of Dr Cecil Cyrus has been chronicled in his third book “A Harvest Richer than Gold”.

During the launch of the book at the Kingstown Methodist Church Hall on July 6, Cyrus said he thought the best way to share his experience with the public was in the various chapters of his book.

The 400-page book is divided into 32 chapters, which include ‘Making Do’, ‘A Hardy People’, ‘Exotica’, ‘The Incredible’, and ‘The nurses of the former Colonial Hospital.’

Cyrus stated that the ‘rich harvest’ in the title of the book refers to the vast experiences which he gained from having to cope with the disproportionate number and diversity of diseases that were inflicted on the small population of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The book also highlights the great chasms between the practice of medicine in a small underprivileged island and that of an advanced sophisticated country as the United Kingdom where I was educated,” he stated.

Cyrus noted that the chapter on Exotica referred to the many strange cases with which he has had to deal.

He recalled an incident in which a three-year-old boy who had ingested pebbles developed a blockage of his intestines.

The retired doctor said his recruitment of patients was anomalous, as he was accosted almost everywhere by persons who would read off a list of complaints to him, and he sometimes would call out to people on the street who obviously needed medical treatment.

“Moreover, there were so many gross deformities and limbs that I invited to my outpatient clinic at the Colonial Hospital, those who I chanced upon on foot and sometimes as I drove along, I shouted out at prospective patients,” he said.

Cyrus noted that he would assure patients that their visits were free and they would not have to pay for the investigation into their condition nor the hospital or any operation.

He recalled the many long hours he worked as a surgeon during his time at the then Colonial Hospital, now the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. The author stated that when he started at the hospital, there were only four doctors with no specialist doctors. He said that in the absence of specialists, he had to perform his duties and those of the absent specialist.

Cyrus stated that the operating sessions at the hospital were long, but happy.

“There was not a single complaint about the long ungodly hours, nor did anyone leave before the end of the list.”

He pointed out that the usual work day was 14 hours; however, he has been known to work 22-hour work days.

Cyrus also noted that during his training in the United Kingdom he never examined a coloured patient. Also, his textbooks were written and clinicians taught with the assumption that everyone in the world was white.

“Hence, I was not prepared for the clinical handicaps posed by the skin pigmentation on my return home,” he said.

Cyrus stated that after a lifetime of practice, he has a reverence for mothers. He even recommended that every adolescent male witness the delivery of a baby through the natural passage.

“Such an experience will cure men of their irrational belief in superiority of their sex,” he said to laughter from the audience.

Cyrus added that this will elevate women to the pedestal which is rightly theirs.

He noted that his rewards during those years can be categorized as tangible, intangible and academic.

The tangible rewards would be the many gifts he received from his patients, including ground provisions, fruits and vegetables and the many bottles of alcohol.

He said the intangible gifts were the simple fact that ample scope was provided for the gradual, practical evolution of the three ruling philosophies of his life, so beautifully and tersely expressed by the Latin author Terence: “I am a man and nothing human is foreign to me” From the Roman philospher, 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 consciouness of well-doing is an ample reward,” and from an unknown author: “Life if beautiful. To preserve it is beautiful.”

Cyrus said his first academic reward was the publication of his first book in 2012, in addition to the presentation of 42 medical papers and 80 public lectures. Additionally the retired doctor was selected by the Queens University of Belfast in 2010 as graduate of the year from 140,000 graduates from 120 countries worldwide.

Book reviews were done at the book launch by headmistress of the St Vincent Girls’ High School Andrea Bowman and consultant radiologist Dr Rosalind Ambrose.

Bowman stated that within the first 100 pages of the book, readers get their money’s worth. She added that at first glance there is an evangelical tone to the book, which is maintained throughout the book.

“The 32 chapters of this book chart Dr Cyrus’ journey towards this all-encompassing vision; a number of these chapters are so self-sufficient that they could stand on their own in the sense of a living complete story of the basis of its specific title,” Bowman opined.

Dr Ambrose described the book as an easy read, adding that it uses a lot of colloquial terms that patients used with him. She noted that aspect makes the reader feel that they are in the setting.

The book can be purchased from Dr Cyrus or from (CM)