Professor Cyril Karabus was the VIP speaker at the Trust’s annual Circle of Life legacy function held recently at Kelvin Grove in Newlands. He spoke of his life’s work as a paediatric oncologist at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and recounted stories of patients he treated as children who are now healthy adults with their own children. One is a paediatrician at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and attending the event also was past patient Gordon Scott, who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour at age six. He is now 41 and works in the pharmaceutical industry.
Prof. Karabus shared anecdotes of his nine month ordeal when arrested and wrongfully incarcerated for the murder of a former patient in the United Arab Emirates, for which he was exonerated.
Prof. Karabus said that when he began working at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, there were just six beds for children with cancer or blood diseases. He ran the cancer unit for more than 30 years, treating children and pioneering new methods of treatment, and remains involved at the Hospital in an advisory role.
The Red Cross Children’s Hospital sees 100 to 120 newly diagnosed children with cancer each year. Prfo. Karabus said, “If you’re going to get cancer, get it while you’re a child because it’s easier to treat. Children’s cancer is where proper cancer treatment started. Leukaemia for example was 100 percent fatal in the 1950’s but now has an 80 percent survival rate.”