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Meet Gail O'Brien - Westfield Local Heroes 2021

Advocating for cancer patients

Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
Passionate. Empathetic. Inclusive

As a patient advocate, Gail O’Brien AO offers people with cancer a shoulder to lean on.

Gail is a director and the patient advocate at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, the only independent not-for-profit cancer hospital in Australia, located in Newtown named after her late husband, Professor Chris O’Brien AO, who passed away from brain cancer in 2009.

Prof O’Brien was a respected head and neck surgeon who had a vision for an integrated cancer treatment centre where patients are supported through all the elements of their illness. His idea was realised with the opening of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to patients on 19 November 2013.

Gail is renowned for her compassion, patience, and warm support of patients and families at the hospital, which treats 60,000 people a year.

“They are bewildered, fearful and feel isolated by their disease,” says Gail.
“Knowing that what we do has a hugely positive impact on the patient and family is a huge privilege and enormously motivating.”

In 2018, Gail was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her work.
Gail is delighted to be nominated as a Westfield Local Hero. “It is gratifying to know that my work is noticed outside the organisation where I work,” she says.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Chris O’Brien Lifehouse will fund a creative space for patients aged 15 to 25 to engage in interactive art.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here

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