Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

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Funds raised this Dry July will provide care and comfort for patients with cancer and their families

About Us

For our patients and their families, Chris O'Brien Lifehouse is more than a cancer hospital; it's a place of hope and healing.

Our achievements, care and services are possible thanks to the generosity and compassionate support from our community.

From our wig library which instils confidence and empowerment to our patients, to our integrative inpatient services such as reflexology and massage, and our You Can Centre which serves as a haven for adolescent patients - funds raised through Dry July offers comfort in a challenging time.

Together, we are working towards a cancer free future.

Latest Updates

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Arterie

Dry July is proud to continue funding Chris O’Brien Lifehouse complementary therapy program Arterie. Arterie supports the COB LIfehouse holistic approach to cancer patient care through an innovative participatory arts program. Arterie’s mission is to improve outcomes for patients, families, carers, staff and visitors by easing the side effects of cancer and its treatment (stress, pain, fatigue, isolation and depression) as well as providing a therapeutic distraction from treatment through art engagement and participation. 

The program uses paints, paper and pencils alongside state-of-the-art surgical equipment and internationally-trained specialists to provide innovative patient support.

Arterie team members, otherwise known as “Arterists”, are formally-qualified artists, designers, architects and educators who deliver the multi-pronged programs in bright orange aprons to all stakeholders - patients, carers, family, volunteers and staff including clinical, admin and executive.

Chief clinical officer Michael Boyer said, “Having an art program is one more aspect of looking after the whole patient. There is more to good cancer care than performing the right operation or prescribing the best medicine. Arterie is something that really helps us look after our patients”.

Arterie Co Founder/Director Amanda Solomon said: “The art is a conduit for conversation and communication. Our aim is to normalise the Lifehouse experience and environment, to make it look and feel less clinical using art practice, art education and art installations. It’s about engaging and focusing on non-medical issues, and having some fun in an otherwise stressful situation.“

Arterie Co Founder/Director Deborah Burdett said: “We get patients and visitors chatting with each other. We see large, burly men, hunched over, intent on colouring in rainbow hues to a butterfly’s wings. Patients sit, stitch and chat with each other. The repetitive nature of some art and craft making activities can be a great stress reliever and people can relax and not think about their illness for once.”

Patient Belinda Ellis is a mother, a teacher and wife healing from stage three breast cancer. She said, “I think that being kept busy was paramount in my maintaining a positive outlook during my treatment. The Day Therapy waiting room can be a sombre place and having happy, orange people pushing these carts filled with art pack surprises made the waiting easier.

“It’s not just medical treatment of the body that makes us get better.”

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Artist in Residence

Jill Carter-Hansen - Multi Disciplinary Artist/Illustrator - is the Arterie Artist in Residence during October 2015 at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Jill is writing and illustrating the story of Beatrice - a bear from the bush who comes to Lifehouse to be reunited with long lost cousin - Brien Bear. Beatrice wanders around Lifehouse, meeting and discovering members of the Lifehouse community in search of Brien. People visiting Lifehouse are invited to sit with Jill, draw their own bear or colour in one of her existing miniature bears from Jill’s illustrations from ‘Bearley There’ (written by Aleesah Darlinson).

The Artist in Residence program is proudly supported by Dry July.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Patient Ambassador: Simone

Simone Georgiou has kindly stepped forward to support Chris O’Brien Lifehouse as a patient ambassador. Here Simone shares her story:

I was married in November 2013.

Nine months later, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Just over a year after walking down the aisle I have become the first patient to have major surgery at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the first patient in the new Intensive Care Unit.

Bowel cancer, I have since found, is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia. If you get it early enough, it’s so much more curable. I think back, and if only I’d known the danger and the signs.

In my case, the signs were there. I first noticed warning signals during my honeymoon in Mexico – but they were disguised because I had managed to pick up a bowel parasite that was later treated successfully with antibiotics when we got home.

Then I fell pregnant, and with pregnancy you have even more changes with your bowel. But after I miscarried the problems continued. My GP got me to have a check-up and, even knowing my family history, everyone was saying: ‘Don’t worry, it’ll just be Crohn’s Disease or gastro or ulcers’.

When the diagnosis came, even my specialist was surprised, given my age at 39.

Immediately, my husband and I began a round of IVF, and now have three embryos frozen. We are waiting for the right time to be carried by a surrogate who has selflessly offered. Obviously I now can’t carry a child.  And it was overwhelming to have this offer. It’s just so… so big.

So I am now through the first round of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and the removal of my entire large bowel and a full hysterectomy to prevent any recurrence of the cancer.

Lying in my bed recuperating from surgery, I’ve had plenty of time to think. I think how, if I hadn’t lost my baby, I would now be dead. Sometimes good things can come from really bad things.

Going through this so young changes your outlook and perspective on life

I often hear people complain about their bad day at work or that they are unable to lose some extra kilos, and it’s sad that they don’t know how lucky they are, they have this amazing thing called ‘health’. I also used to take that for granted, but never again. It’s the little things at the moment that make a big difference.

So I’m looking at what I can do with my life that’s positive and the way my story might help others.

I want to urge younger people to have a check-up if they have a history of cancer in their family.

My grandfather and his siblings died from bowel cancer. My father would have been a carrier of Lynch Syndrome, which predisposes carriers to bowel cancer, but he died of melanoma. I always knew I would get cancer because my family has cancer on both sides, but not so young. I thought I would be older.

I want to do something to support other younger people who get cancer. Under 50, it’s not something you expect. If there’s a way I can make it a little bit easier, to make other people feel they’re not the only one out there, I want to do something, even if it’s just saving one person from this.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Patient Ambassador: Caroline

The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Dry July team is getting ready to put down their glasses to raise money for cancer support and treatment.

Their wonderful volunteer and cancer survivor Caroline is taking up the Dry July challenge again this year. “I’ll be having a glass of bubbly on the 30th of June to commiserate and another on the 1st of August to celebrate!” Caroline said.

Caroline began volunteering at RPA in 2007 after having treatment there for breast cancer. She now volunteers at both Lifehouse and RPA; “I feel like I’ve had a lot of help, I’d like to put a lot back in. That’s why I volunteer, and why I’m doing Dry July.”

Caroline met her partner John, also a cancer survivor and fellow volunteer at both Lifehouse and RPA Cancer Support Centre, at an RPA volunteers’ drinks event. John drives the Lifehouse patient transport car, which was purchased with funds raised through previous Dry July campaigns.

After Caroline’s champagne-free month, she and John will be celebrating by flying to Cairns for a holiday on 1 August.

For more information about the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse team and to track their Dry July adventures, check out the team page at:

Transport Vehicle at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

The Lifehouse Volunteer Program provides a broad range of services for patients, designed to make their visit as easy and positive an experience as possible. Volunteers offer information, comfort and reassurance, as well as a friendly face. Program services range from assistance navigating the Centre; providing information about patient services; offering refreshments in reception areas and clinics; and assistance in using tablet computers available to patients during treatments.

Lifehouse volunteers also operate a complementary transport service for patients and their carers.  Dry July funds have been used to assist with providing a free shuttle service, which goes to and from Central Station every 30 minutes during peak appointment times. This service is invaluable to patients - particularly those from regional NSW travelling to Sydney by train for treatment.

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