Timely reward for cancer patient advocate

Friday, 26 January, 2018

Timely reward for cancer patient advocate

A tireless advocate for cancer patients, Gail O’Brien of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse has been awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia for her commitment to improving the lives of people with cancer.

O’Brien is recognised for her passion and drive to continue the vision of her husband, Dr Chris O’Brien AO.

Following the death of her husband Chris from brain cancer, and the sudden death of their son, Adam, O’Brien rose above personal tragedy with fortitude and resilience to deliver Chris’s vision of a comprehensive cancer hospital in Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

“Each day as I visit patients on the ward, I carry the memory of my husband in my heart,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien is Director of the Board and Patient Advocate at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and has been recognised for her service and dedication to Australians whose lives are touched by cancer.

As the Council for the Order of Australia notes, O’Brien’s most remarkable accomplishment is her “alchemic rendering” of personal tragedy into public benefit.

By working to ensure the lessons from the illness and death of her husband are translated into wider cancer care, she has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people with cancer and patients in general.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and its integrative medicine programs are the manifestation of Chris’s vision, and their design and operation are a credit to O’Brien and the many people around her.

“It’s been a long road towards our destination of a hospital dedicated to the holistic understanding of healing in an environment of medical excellence and scientific discovery,” O’Brien said.

“The individuals and teams with whom I have been privileged to work over the past year are the stewards of our journey.”

Her colleagues at the hospital are delighted yet unsurprised by the accolade.

“As well as helping patients navigate the difficult waters of a cancer diagnosis, Gail has been pivotal in raising millions of dollars for cancer research and treatment,” Chris O’Brien Lifehouse CEO Eileen Hannagan said.

“She keeps us buoyant and raises us up both in terms of morale and our bottom line. This award fittingly recognises the selfless dedication Gail has shown to improving the lives of Australians with cancer.”

Image credit: ©Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

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