Neal Wald Memorial Research Fellowship | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

Leaving a legacy of research

Wald

Neal Wald passed away almost a year to the day after Chris O’Brien. Just like the O’Briens, his family has left a legacy that will potentially change the way we treat cancer. Neal Wald was diagnosed with an aggressive salivary duct cancer of the parotid gland. He underwent treatment at RPA, with no remission.

After watching their husband and Dad battle cancer, Neal’s widow, Ann and children Gemma, Hamish, Robert and Tom wanted to do more. “We wanted to support the doctors who were all so good to Dad. We wanted to make a difference, to try and help the medical team who tried to help our dear father,” said Hamish. The family have since donated funds to establish the Neal Wald Memorial Research Fellowship to support head and neck cancer specialist Associate Professor Jonathan Clark to undertake research.

“Doctors supporting Dad treated him with the utmost care and respect even though we were under no illusion as to what we were facing. Those caring for Dad seemed like the right people to allocate funds appropriately,” said Hamish. “The teams treating Dad had the same work ethic and dedication as our family and we believed they would use the money wisely; to improve treatments and ultimately outcomes for those diagnosed with cancer.

“Research makes treatments accessible for everyone regardless of wealth or ability to be able to travel to cities for treatment,” said Hamish. Over the past two years, the fellowship has provided funding for A/Prof Clark to:

  • work with the University of NSW Bioengineering Department towards developing a bionic eyelid implant for facial nerve paralysis
  • conduct large patient and clinician questionnaires to assist in the development of a new quality of life scale for patients undergoing surgery for parotid cancer
  • submit a study on aesthetic outcomes following salivary gland surgery to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons meeting
  • submit three papers on outcomes following treatment for salivary gland cancers – these are awaiting review before publication
  • publish a review article on advances in salivary gland cancers.

A/Prof Clark says, “Without additional funds, we are powerless to learn more about disease, powerless to improve treatments for patients and powerless to decrease mortality rates. Research funding is what facilitates improvements in cancer care. It’s what ultimately helps save lives.”

To donate to the Neal Wald Memorial Research Fellowship, please contact Alison Muir, on (02) 8514 0356 or email: alison.muir@lh.org.au.

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