Sheldon Rubin thought the celebration was to recognize his retirement as a long-time hematologist and oncologist at the Moncton Hospital.
Still emotional several days afterward, the Moncton native said, with choking voice in a telephone interview with The CJN, “I thought there would be a dozen or so people in a small room. But there were more than 200 [crowded into a hospital dining area]. I was totally surprised when they named the oncology clinic after me.”
Rubin, who treated thousands of patients for cancer and blood disorders, recently retired after 41 years at the hospital. He graduated from Dalhousie University medical school in Halifax in 1967, followed by four years of residency and training in Halifax, and two years at Princess Margaret’s Hospital in Toronto.
“I trained in internal medicine, then hematology which, when I was in med school, I thought would be the best fit,” said Rubin. “I wanted to practise in the Maritimes and, with little hematology in New Brunswick, found Moncton to be the best option.”
As the first hematologist in Moncton, he had a lot of freedom to set up the program the way he wanted. “But I had to prove to the hospital’s executive that what I was doing was important and deserving of support.”
Horizon Health Network board chairman David Ferguson told the Moncton Times-Transcript that Rubin fought for advances in cancer treatment locally for all the right reasons – purely for the patients. “It has always been about the patients with him,” Ferguson said.
Many paid tribute to the cancer doctor whose knowledge and experience were sought by colleagues across New Brunswick, Canada and internationally.
“Dr. Rubin is a well respected oncologist [and] hematologist,” said New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “It is only appropriate to name the facility after him since Dr. Rubin played such a key role in establishing it.”
From a clinic with Rubin as sole oncologist, it grew to today’s six oncologists in a new oncology wing that features the latest high-tech equipment and a 30-bed cancer ward. Rubin has been credited with many of the advances in cancer treatment in Moncton and New Brunswick.
“Nothing was too good for Rubin’s patients,” said veteran radiologist Dr. James Noonan. “Rubin would order every test imaginable if that’s what it took to get to the heart of the illness he was treating. That technique is now known as ‘Rubinization,’” he said.
Rubin’s voice broke when he talked of the happy outcomes he’s seen.
“Every time you see someone cured, there is no greater feeling than seeing the patient’s, and their family’s, happiness. You can’t measure the joy when, as I have, you see a teen leukemia patient grow into a vibrant woman who now has two children and a successful career.”
He called the honour a testament to those who helped him throughout his career. The clinic has been cited by patients, hospital staff and administrators as the gold standard in cancer care.
Rubin deflected the praise. “You can’t do it without the people with whom you work,” Rubin said.
Married to wife Sharon for 43 years, Rubin has two children and two grandchildren. Rubin praised his wife for taking care of the family when he was working long hours.
With a smile in his voice, he said, “Sharon controlled me when my temper got the better of me. She’s the rock of my life.”