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How a grim diagnosis transformed the life of one of Australia's top cancer specialists.
It was a cruel twist of fate: in November 2006 Chris O'Brien, one of Australia's leading head and neck cancer surgeons, was diagnosed with an aggressive and almost inevitably lethal form of brain cancer. As he knew, few sufferers survive past twelve months. Nevertheless, he was determined to beat the odds. With the support of his close family, O'Brien took the option of radical brain surgery under the supervision of well-known neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo. His health and relative youth - he was fifty-four when diagnosed - helped him with the painful transition from doctor to patient, and renewed his faith in the importance of an optimistic outlook as the cornerstone of recovery.
Here, in his bestselling memoir, Chris O'Brien looked back over his life and the forces that shaped him - from his modest beginnings and early years as a doctor to becoming the face of the television show RPA, and from his crusade for the establishment of integrated cancer centres, through to the shocking news that changed his life.
In June 2009, after living with cancer for two and a half years, Chris O'Brien passed away. To the end he was optimistic and generous, relaying his energies into fundraising for an integrated cancer centre, the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse at Royal Prince Alfred hospital. Honoured as an Officer in the Order of Australia, he was described by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as 'a truly exceptional Australian'.