Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lessons from an amazing individual....

I am currently reading "Never Say Die" the memoir of Chris O'Brien, who was one of Australia's leading head and neck cancer surgeons. In 2006, he was diagnosed with an aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer. Most people who have this particular form of cancer do not survive past 12 months, but Chris lived with the cancer for 2 & 1/2 years. In that time he was always generous and optimistic, putting all of his energy into fundraising for an integrated cancer centre called "Lifehouse" at Royal Prince Alfred hospital.

From the very first pages of the book, it is clear that Chris is a compassionate, inspiring and quite enlightened individual. His attitude of inclusivity really resonated with me and reminds me alot of the philosophy behind lululemon.

Chris wrote the following about a ritual he introduced to the head and neck team at RPA, early on in his days there:

"The gathering involved sharing a couple of bottles of red wine, sometimes with cheese or other food, for an hour or more at the end of the day with the anaesthetics team and the residents, registrars and fellows as well as the medical students.
During this time we would talk as equals about the day's events or about books, films, wine and anything else non-medical that presented itself. People may sniff cynically at the word 'equals' but I had worked hard over the years to develop a culture of mutual respect and harmony in the unit, based on the principle that we were simply at different stages of our medical careers and therefore had different roles and responsibilities. These little bonding sessions created an opportunity for us to become better aquainted with the junior members of the team and to learn about their lives and ambitions. When we adjourned for home, everyone was cheerful and felt they'd had a good day".

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