Running to Breakthrough Cancer for…Gerry O.

I am training for the ING 2013 NYC Marathon to help raise money for Breakthrough Cancer Research.  

Dr. Gerald O’Sullivan was many things in life.

The Irish Medical Times called him “the outstanding Irish surgeon of his generation” and “an Irish Giant.”  His medical peers in Ireland elected him President of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2006.  He lived and worked in Chicago, Canada, and even Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war.  He served as mentor of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa.  He was an Honorary Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, a prestigious award since it is limited to only 100 living surgeons worldwide at any time.  He was loved by those he worked with, as evidenced in a touching YouTube video created after he died.  But perhaps most notably, Gerry founded Cork Cancer Research Centre in the 1990s, a world-class research organization driven to improve treatment and prognoses for the most devastating cancers.

He was a premier medical doctor in Ireland and beyond, but to me, my parents, my brothers and sister, and my cousins here in America, he was just Gerry.  Gerry, my mother’s first cousin, a man who took time out of his hectic schedule to visit us in New Jersey while on work travel to the U.S., his booming voice and lilting brogue filling our entry foyer when he arrived.  Gerry, the crazy-smart cousin who loved American history so much that he could recite every president and vice president going back to George Washington.  Gerry, whose sense of humor tickled you to your core, like when he surprise-crashed a family party in suburban Pennsylvania (where his daughter was living) disguised as a hobo…ambling down the quiet, meticulously manicured street wearing a mask, an old trench coat, a ratty old hat, and carrying a stick with a bag tied around one end of it…he had the entire party in stitches.  Gerry, who could talk and talk and talk over multiple pots of tea about topics as wide-ranging as cricket and hurling to current affairs, especially U.S. politics.

Gerry died on February 12, 2012.  He succumbed to multiple myeloma, a cancer that starts in the plasma cells in bone marrow.  It was a huge loss, both personally for our family but also for the community of medical professionals dedicated to eradicating cancer.  Fortunately, his legacy lives on through his family and Breakthrough Cancer Research, the new fundraising arm of Cork Cancer Research Centre.  Breakthrough Cancer Research collaborates with cancer organizations worldwide, from Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Slovenia, Scotland, as well as here in the U.S., including Harvard Medical School.

Cancer is horrific, cancer is cruel, and cancer is seemingly ubiquitous.  But cancer can be beaten.   As it says on Breakthrough Cancer Research’s websiteThere is hope, and that hope is in research.

You can donate easily and quickly by visiting my marathon fundraising site on JustGiving.com.  Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell your details or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to Breakthrough Cancer Research. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Thank you.

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