Sylvia Fedoruk, a medical physicist, believed that education–acquiring knowledge and skills, and a balanced life–making leisure an integral part of our lives, were the keys to success. And she felt she was successful both in the lab and on the playing field.
Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, her parents encouraged her to do well in school and she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics. Recruited to be the radiation physicist at the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic, she became the chief medical physicist and director of physics services at the clinic.
Working as the only woman on a 4–person team she helped to develop the Cobalt 60 Therapy Unit, also known as the Cobalt Bomb, which pioneered the curative treatment of cancer using high intensity radioactive cobalt in humans–which would go on to help over 70 million patients. The team was also responsible for the creation of one of the first nuclear scanning machines.
Later in her medical physics research efforts she developed a Dosimeter, a device used with the cobalt therapy machine that allowed doctors to regulate the dose of radiation received by the patient. The first woman member of the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada, she also worked as a professor of oncology and associate member in physics at the University of Saskatchewan before being appointed chancellor of the school in 1986. Two years later she was appointed as the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, the first woman to fill this role.
On top of all that she was also very active, participating in many sports including volleyball, golf, softball, track and field, and basketball. But the sport that she is most noted for is curling. She served as president of the Canadian Ladies Curling Association, was a member of the first Canadian Women’s Championship Curling team and was inducted into Canada’s Curling Hall of Fame in 1986. When she passed away in 2012 she was remembered by a Former Saskatchewan premier stating, “Sylvia Fedoruk was our friend, our professor, our hero, our cheerleader, our diplomat and our role model.”
Written by Angela Goad