Personal Stories of Cobalt-60 Cancer Treatment and Legacy

Thousands of patients and their families were affected by the development at the University of Saskatchewan of the cobalt-60 cancer treatment. Below are a few of the stories related to the development of the technology, its use in cancer treatment, and its legacy.

Do you have a story to share about the cobalt-60 treatment and its legacy? Were you or your family somehow connected to this ground-breaking U of S innovation? Please email your recollections to: kathryn.warden@usask.ca


"Words cannot express my gratitude to you and your cobalt bomb. I owe my life to its treatment...in 1962. I was spared to raise my young family...I feel I owe this joy to you. I am a survivor of 47 years and I shall be forever grateful to you!"

  • Ann Appleby lived near Estevan at the time of her cobalt-60 radiation treatment in 1962. She was cancer-free for nearly 49 years afterward. In the spring of 2009, she wrote the above note to Dr. Sylvia Fedoruk. Ann Appleby passed away in 2011 at the age of 95.

"When I arrived on campus in 1972 to become the radiologist at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), Dr. Fedoruk was still the radiation physicist at Royal University Hospital (RUH). She helped me to set up a program of radiation therapy for dogs and cats at WCVM, using an old X-ray therapy machine which was housed in the now-demolished medical research building at College & Wiggins. She brought me a Strontium-90 treatment 'plaque' over to WCVM so I could treat superficial eye lesions in animals.

“At one point, she offered WCVM this historic cobalt-60 unit, then gathering dust in the RUH basement, but at that time I could not secure the funds to site and refurbish it to treat animal cancers. I am very pleased that this historic medical device is now on permanent display and that the people who developed it are being recognized for their exemplary achievement."

  • John Pharr, professor of medical imaging in the department of small animal clinical sciences at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine
The Cancer Bomb Exhibit

View the exhibition at the Western Development Museum.