Gift of life

Photo of Robert and Susan Maple-Brown and the VC

Robert and Susan Maple-Brown and the VC

When Christine Maple-Brown died in 2007 after a losing battle with bowel cancer, she was just 36. She left behind a grieving family including her husband Dougal and their three children. Sadly, the experience for her loved ones is not uncommon in Australia, and the statistics are stark.

Bowel (colorectal) cancer kills some 80 Australians each week; one in 12 among us will develop this particular cancer in our lifetime. It is the second-largest cause of cancer deaths in the country, although if caught early, 90 per cent can be successfully treated. But out of the 274 cases diagnosed each week throughout Australia, 78 will be fatal.

Research and discovery are the best hope for the future and the Maple-Brown Family Charitable Foundation is to fund a new colorectal clinic at the Lifehouse Cancer Centre at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

The leadership gift of $5 million will go to the clinic, which will be known as the Christine Maple-Brown Clinic for Colorectal Cancer. In addition, a scholarship for research in the field of colorectal cancer will also be established in Christine’s name.

“We are very pleased to be able to make this gift to the University because it will enable further important research to be carried out into this all too common disease,” said Christine’s father-in-law, Robert Maple-Brown.

Accepting the gift, Dr Michael Spence, the University’s Vice-Chancellor says: “This extremely generous donation will enable our medical experts to continue vital research in an area which is affecting growing numbers of Australians”.

According to a recent report by the Cancer and Bowel Research Trust, cancer currently costs the Australian community around $2 billion per year in direct health system costs. Eighty per cent of these expenses are attributed to treatment costs. And the awareness level of bowel cancer in Australia does not coincide with its high incidence and mortality. Australians are still not aware of their risks in relation to some cancers, notably prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.

“We are indebted to the Maple-Brown family for their support and their transformational gift. Our priority is to foster research which will really make a difference to people’s lives,” Dr Spence said.