"There is something magic about the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse atmosphere...and thanks to this place I’ve been able to watch my grandkids grow up.”  Norman Campbell - Patient and Regular Giver

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Rural & Regional Vehicle

Currently, we have the pleasure of extending our much-needed services to ten regional communities spread across both NSW and the ACT. Our long-term goal is to continue this growth, for the life-saving assistance we provide. The clinics we operate within these regions are vital. They provide easily accessible healthcare for patients by bringing cancer specialists directly to them.

This way, we can ensure faster access to essential treatments. It's invaluable in the battle against cancer, increasing patient’s chances of survival and improving their quality of life. It gives them a chance in places where such help was previously hard to find.

Now, we have an urgent matter at hand. Through this edition of OpenHouse, we are raising funds for a new vehicle for the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Our current car, which was a life artery of our rural and regional program, unfortunately, broke down recently and is beyond practical repair. We urgently need a replacement. The vehicle is absolutely crucial in maintaining our level of care. It will enable us to continue providing our high-quality services and offer hope to rural communities who may otherwise be isolated in their fight against cancer.

With your help, we can keep moving forward.

Ringing in the Decade

On April Fool’s Day in 2014, Norman Campbell got a call from his GP. The results from his recent scan were in and he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He was in shock. He had retired in 2006, and after recovering from a previous bypass surgery he had tried to live an active, healthy lifestyle, walking or cycling 10km every morning, followed by some laps in the water.

In a moment, the life of a loving husband, father and grandfather was drastically changed. When asked where he wanted to be referred, Norman emphasised, “Send me to the best place.” His GP referred him to the brand-new Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

After several more tests and consultations, Norman was told that he was likely to live another six to eight months. He underwent a grueling schedule of chemotherapy and radiotherapy over a six-week period, but after three months, the tests showed his cancer had spread. Norman now had 23 tumours, some “as big as tennis balls.”

With his last bit of hope, Norman began searching for another avenue, anything that might give him a chance at treating his cancer. He’d been told about a clinical trial, but it was predicted it may only extend his life by two months, and he worried about the impact on his quality of life. His family and doctors, Steven Kao and Prof Michael Boyer, encouraged him to take a chance.

Norman took the leap and says, “The trial really did give me some hope that I could beat this thing.” Norman underwent treatment for a total of seven years, but the doses of the medication administered through his clinical trial increased and he began experiencing neuropathy, a side effect of treatment where nerves are damaged and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet can occur.

When the treatments stopped, Norman was warned that the cancer may return but miraculously, it didn’t. “Every day is a bit of a challenge, but I wake up and am so grateful. Before this, I didn’t realise life was so precious. I’m just about well. I will soon be three years without any treatment,” says Norman.

Now 10 years on from his first visit, Norman came in to ring the bell. It wasn’t here when he first visited and is used to celebrate milestones such as finishing treatment. On the 6th February 2024, Norman finally rang the bell together with Dr Kao, surrounded by the amazing staff who have supported him on his journey so far. It was an emotional and joyous occasion for Norman and all those surrounding him in that special moment. Norman is grateful for the staff who helped him throughout his journey and who hoped for him at the times he couldn’t.

To support others in their journey and to give the gift of hope to others, Norman decided to leave a gift in his will and become a regular giver and member of the Discovery Centre, helping to support patient care and drive research. We asked Norman what sparked him to become a donor and leave a bequest.

He said, “As a patient who survived, who was surviving once I got the trial, it extended my life every month, and I’m still here…the drugs, the atmosphere, there is some magic at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse…the choir, someone on the piano, the research going on… Everyone should have access to the best care, to a long life, and a cure. It’s a great cause and thanks to this place I’ve been able to watch my grandkids grow up.”

The Sound of Hope

On the 6th February, 2024 Norman finally rang the bell on Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, together with Dr Kao.

He was surrounded by the amazing staff who have supported him on his journey so far.

It was an emotional and joyous occasion for Norman and all those around him in that special moment. 

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About Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is a not-for-profit, comprehensive cancer hospital in Sydney. From screening to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and wellness, we treat all types of cancer, specialising in those that are complex and rare. We offer patients every service and therapy that they need including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, complementary therapies and supportive services, all under the one roof.

Everyone needs hope. We live on hope.
- Professor Chris O’Brien AO

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