When Director Richard Griffin AM was in preparatory school, he was given some medical advice by the Matron: ‘Listen to your body and act on it.’
“She drilled into us that it was not “sissy” or “weak” to talk about one’s concerns with medical professionals,” says Richard.
That advice probably saved Richard’s life.
In the mid-1990s I had several business interests, one or two of which were reasonably stressful.
When time allowed, I would visit the golf course, but in 1997 I noticed that I was ‘running out of puff’ from about the 13th hole onwards.
For somebody who has had plenty of stamina, it worried me.
As a result, I went to my GP who immediately sent me to a consulting physician who was also a gastroenterologist.
Within a week, I was booked for a colonoscopy.
As I came to, I figured something was wrong because I was the only one still on a drip.
After being given the bad news I said, ‘I’m in hospital and I’m not leaving until it’s out.’
I was seen that evening by the surgeon and was operated on the next morning.
The surgery was followed by six months of chemotherapy.
I always felt that I wanted to give something back.
I became aware of the valuable work Bowel Cancer Australia was doing not long after the charity was formed, back in 2000.
Among the many activities they were involved in, research was what I was interested in most.
Although there was a lot of good work being done in cancer research broadly, there seemed to be very little focus on bowel cancer specifically.
Establishing the Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research was a long-term objective of Bowel Cancer Australia.
With the support of my colleagues on the Bowel Cancer Australia Board, the Bowel Cancer Research Foundation was created, which I now Chair, with the specific task of achieving that objective.
And in 2017, after many years of hard work by all concerned, Professor Mark Molloy PhD was appointed as the inaugural Lawrence Penn Chair of Bowel Cancer Research at the University of Sydney.
The majority of funding came from Bowel Cancer Australia, which committed $6.4 million to establish the position, and was supported by additional funds of $4 million available to the University, to advance research into bowel cancer.
Dedicated to leading-edge bowel cancer discoveries that aim to have an everlasting impact on Australia's health future, the Lawrence Penn Research Chair marks the beginning of what we all hope will be rewarding research into a major area of cancer affecting both men and women.