Liz Kenny receives prestigious Officer of the Order of Australia award

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Liz Kenny and her family at Government House

Internationally-renowned radiation oncologist, Lizbeth (Liz) Kenny, has received her badge as an Officer of the Order of Australia. The investiture ceremony was on 4 May 2017. The Order of Australia is the principal and most prestigious means of recognising outstanding members of the community at a national level. The award was publicly announced on Australia Day (26 January).

“I received a letter from the Governor General’s office in late 2016, informing me that I had been awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia and this was formally announced on Australia Day,” Kenny, senior radiation oncologist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Queensland, Australia, told Interventional News.

On being asked how she felt about receiving this honour, Kenny, who became the youngest-ever president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) in 2005, said: “I felt completely overwhelmed with the award. I completely understand its significance and importance and feel deeply honoured. My husband, Colin, and children, William and Sophie, were proud and delighted, as were our friends and family. I have been truly humbled by the number of good wishes and genuine happiness expressed from my hospital, my colleagues, bosses and patients. I am aware of the responsibility that goes hand-in-hand with accepting this award. It will not change my day-to-day clinical work or research but it gives me even more enthusiasm. I have the privilege of working with wonderful people, both clinically and with my regional team, who are so dedicated to improving cancer care across Queensland.”

Kenny and her family celebrated the news in style. “We had a fabulous party at our favourite Brisbane restaurant, Moda, along with 70 of our family and friends. We combined this with birthday celebrations for both me and my husband as we both have birthdays around this time. My old boss acted as master of ceremonies and it was just a great night.”

Kenny wears her Officer of the Order of Australia badge

Interventional News asked Kenny about where her continuing motivation to do more comes from and how she balances her rewarding career and rich family life. “I love my work. At the core, caring well for patients drives everything I do professionally, be it one-on-one care with my patients, working with my clinical and research teams, or trying to improve services at a state or national level. I do not have any recipe for a balanced life, in fact I suspect that my family feel that I am a bit unbalanced! My family travel with me as much as possible and this is always wonderful. Seeing our children grow up into such good and independent people makes me think that we must have done something right. Having wonderful personal assistant support at work and at home makes all the difference,” she explained.

Although Kenny is a pre-eminent radiation oncologist, she is a longstanding supporter of interventional radiology, and is a member of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) and its Oncology Alliance Subcomittee. When asked about her big picture goals for cancer care, Kenny said: “In my own profession of radiation oncology, the future is very bright for our teams. The combination of wonderful technology, that continues to develop, combined with the very real human face of caring for people with cancer, often at their time of greatest need, drives us all. I would love to see the world refocus on the importance of local treatment and local cure, which brings the greatest gain to patients.

Partnering with interventional oncology and imaging research is a very clear road ahead from my perspective and CIRSE’s commitment to Quality Assurance in interventional oncology will go a long way to facilitating this.” The investiture ceremony took place on 4 May, at Government House in Brisbane. Liz Kenny received the award from the Governor of Queensland, at a glittering ceremony attended by her family. In the evening, she attended a formal dinner hosted by the Governor. Amongst the dozens of congratulatory messages that followed the announcement of the award on the Governor’s webpage, was a wonderful post on Facebook by Sophie, which said: “When I was five years old, I used to think mum was superwoman. Now that I am 22, I realise that I was right all along!”

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