Cancer He Said


St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital’s own Professor Andreas Obermair MD is featured as part of the upcoming Brisbane Portrait Prize exhibition at Brisbane Powerhouse (September 29 to October 31).


As a gynaecological oncologist, Andreas specialises in surgery for uterine, ovarian, cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer. Alongside his clinical practice, Andreas established the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer Research at The University of Queensland. Together, with a team of gynaecological oncologists, he leads internationally-recognised research into more effective and less invasive treatments for gynaecological cancer to ensure patients receive the most up-to-date treatments available.

One of Andreas’ patients, artist Jane Grealy, painted the portrait, Cancer He Said, after being treated by Andreas and St Andrew’s for ovarian cancer.

‘This man and his team at St Andrew’s saved my life,’ said Jane. ‘He is committed to kinder, gentler treatments for cancer patients. I thought, what drives him to constantly search for a better outcome for gynaecological cancer? Where does their inspiration come from? What makes a person like Andreas tick and how could I show this as an artist?’

In undertaking something as intimate as a portrait, Jane discovered more about the man who saved her life. ‘When I asked what is most important to him in pursuing research, he said an idea can come when least expected! Perhaps an idea that is sparked by a comment from a patient or visiting researcher, a question raised by a colleague, or an insight from his wife. So Andreas is creative in that way too.’

Grealy captures this moment in time as Andreas Obermair stands at the end of her St Andrew’s hospital bed and has pledged that any money raised from the sale of the painting or prizes received will go directly to support Andreas’ gynaecological cancer research.

‘When I heard that my prognosis was good, I immediately thought of the other women that would not survive. There is nothing particularly special about me that I should deserve to fare better. I don't have vast wealth to donate or the intelligence and ability to find a cure, but I can paint.’

The Brisbane Portrait Prise celebrates Brisbane portrait artists and their subjects, while encouraging public engagement with the arts.

You can vote for Andreas’ portrait or book in to vist the exhibition here.

‘Cancer He Said’ of Professor Andreas Obermair by Jane Gealey was created with oil on linen (152 x 101 cm).