Grace Gawler Cancer Service Milestones

Celebrating 46 years of Cancer Service

Dedication and Passion

Grace has first-hand appreciation of the cancer journey as…
Cancer Charity Director 

Grace Gawler says – “At 21 years of age during the 1970’s, I became sole caregiver to an amputee cancer patient deemed palliative in a time when cancer support systems were non-existent. 

During my early 40’s I experienced separation and divorce with a life challenging colon condition, surgically induced during a hysterectomy.  Many years of surgical procedures followed including a successful world-first “bionic implant” surgery performed in the Netherlands. This meant no more ileostomy or colostomy bags!

Later, I experienced breast cancer requiring 4 surgeries including and a mastectomy.
As a veteran of these diverse life experiences; I appreciate first-hand the reality of walking in the shoes of both caregiver and patient.”

Before organising your video consultation - explore Grace's vast cancer experience

1974: Aged just 21, Grace became sole carer of a critically ill cancer patient who survived against the odds. (Still alive in Mar 2021)

1980: Co-founded the Melbourne Cancer Support Group and The Gawler Foundation – Yarra Valley Living Centre -Yarra Junction Victoria (1985)

Established as a pioneer in the field of supportive care, CAM and cancer.

1979-1987: Graduate of Dorothy Hall College at distinction level in a broad range of Natural Therapies. QINS – Dip Basic Sciences.

1978-1984: Four children born – busy years!

1991: Created gender specific support groups and residential courses for women with cancer and breast cancer – an Australia first. The Cancer Council later adopted the support group model.

1994: First book published Women of Silence. Reprinted UK 2003. 

1995: Women of Silence printed in Dutch language.

1996-1999: Invited to be a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Women’s Health Victorian government complementary medicine 

1994-1995: New Zealand  – promotes and leads first residential programs for women with cancer & breast cancer – Auckland

1996: Resigns from Gawler Foundation; unhappy with their changing direction. Creates ‘safe’ practice for women- Ellimatta Women’s Health.

1997: Presented a Grand Round for Graduates and Doctors Monash University Medical Centre: Subject: The importance of emotional support for women with breast cancer
1997: Marriage separation, divorce, concurrent with life challenging condition.

1998: Receives the inaugural Rotary International Jean Harris Award for services to Women’s Health; South Pacific Region


2002-3: Following surgical complications (1997) Grace undergoes successful world first experimental surgery in The Netherlands. 

2003: Promotes & leads first residential programs for women with breast cancer; The Netherlands.

2002-2003: BBC radio interviews throughout the UK including Libby Purves, BBC Radio 4 London (4 million listeners).

2003: Presenter, workshop leader for the London and Hereford Haven Trusts, the Helen Rollason HEAL Trust, Chelmsford Essex, Bristol Cancer Help Centre (now Penny Brohn Centre) 
Presented the Penny Brohn Memorial Lecture London.

2003: Invited to work in association with Oncology Professor Karol Sikora, Harley Street London.

2004-2005: Settled in Brisbane, founded The Australian College of Supportive Care Medicine and MASTERCLASS. Training practitioners in Supportive Care Medicine.

2005: GEM Psychotherapy Method. Named and supported by Dr Ilana Rubenfeld USA (RSM TM)

2005: Presentation for the European Association for Cancer Education, 18th annual scientific meeting, Birmingham, UK.

Created In8potential for promoting Wellness and encouraging people to find their innate spark – Key focus – Use lessons learned from illness to promote wellness.

Member of and writer for Spa Asia and many other journals

2005 - 2016

2005: Assisted Reiki Australia Professional Standards Team training module: Providing Services for People with a Life Challenging Illness (module HLTCOM509A). Now included as an elective in many qualifications including the Health Training Package for use nationally.

2005: Invited member to the International Advisory Board Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. Elsevier Science Direct and in print. Articles published The British Medical Associations “Holistic Health” Journal.

2007: Presents Keynotes & Workshops at major Health Summits, Thailand and Manila. introduces her Wellbeing Model to the Global Spa Industry.

2007: Keynote Australasian Spa Conference Sydney. Speaker replacing Olivia Newton John.

2008: Invited patron for Reiki Australia.

2010: Published in Medical Journal of Australia and reviewed in Australian Doctor

2010: Established the Grace Gawler Institute for Integrated Cancer solutions, Qld; a health promotion charity for expanding her cancer patient services, including support for male cancer patients with her partner, Pip Cornall.

2010: Converts her books to eBook format for worldwide distribution.

2011: A funding grant provided by Aurizon enables the institute to establish Prostate Mates website and services. Delivery of prostate cancer services in rural Australia.

2012: Grace and Pip invited to an innovative private oncology clinic in Germany. We offered a specialised service, travelling with patients to Germany, providing guidance and support. 

2014: Ceased the service when clinic failed to implement our requested changes – better management, capping of patients fees. During this time, Grace met leading German cancer specialists, visited the Swiss Bio Strath production plant.

2014: Grace and a specialist GP create a dedicated practice for cancer patients on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

2016:  Specialist GP retires. Grace continues collaborations with leading oncologists in Australia and overseas.

2016: New initiatives help many patients achieve Optimal Health Restoration. Includes many stage 4 and palliative patients whose survival outcomes exceeded clinical expectations.

2016: Brain Cancer without Borders initiative established, forming a global alliance with brain cancer specialists.

2016: Grace creates unique cancer navigation plans (Survive and Thrive) providing 10 hours of dedicated services.

2017- 2019

2017: Grace develops a strong scientific liaison with an Australian based genomic laboratory enabling Genomic diagnostics to play a significant role in treatment options for our patients. 

2018: Name change. Grace implements a name change for the Institute to the Grace Gawler Institute for Cancer Survivorship and Research. The change to include ‘survivorship,’ reflects the large number of our late stage cancer patients who survived & thrived despite their poor prognosis. 

The inclusion of ‘Research’ in the new name indicates our aim to conduct research into these successful late stage ‘survivorships’ and publish our findings.

2018: Survivorship Care plan: In accordance with the change of name the survive and thrive navigation plans were also renamed as survivorship care plans.
Two dedicated plans were created offering a basic (10 hours) and a more intensive plan (15 hours) service. Terms of service were updated and new additions were made to the Grace Gawler Institute website. 

2019: Sponsored medical research trip to Taiwan and Singapore.

Taiwan: Meetings and liaisons with University of Taiwan, Taiwan oncologists and radiation therapists. Visit nuclear cyclotron, discussions about new minimally invasive treatment for brain cancer patients.

Met with the Taiwanese distributor of Japanese functional foods and abiotic supplements to gain more in-depth knowledge about products that may help our patients.

Met with a university professor and researcher who has spent 18 years researching medicinal mushrooms.

By visiting the source and place of manufacture of complementary medicines recommend by GGI, we confirmed our confidence in research evidence and quality control of these products.

Singapore: Meetings with a colorectal surgeon, oncologists, radiation therapy team at two hospitals with a view to furthering second opinions and referrals for our patients.

2020- 2021

2020: Covid 19 year. Despite challenges including lack of volunteer and support staff, Grace guided the Institute to provide extended patient services; a challenge; given referrals overseas were ceased due to travel  restrictions. During this period, Grace spent 50% of her time providing free advice for desperate patients who could not travel overseas or (at times) interstate, for treatment.

2021:  The Melinda Ferszt Fund: thanks to friends and family of Melinda Ferszt, Grace will be authoring a handbook for younger patients who are diagnosed with colon cancer. This will be a first of its kind and will be available in print and e-book. The book is intended to provide a living legacy of Melinda’s journey.
Other initiatives: Increase Breast and Prostate Cancer Services

Extra training relevant to Grace's Cancer service - Lectures and Workshops

Grace Gawler’s profiles can be found on and Grace is a member of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS). 

1992 – 1994: Lectures Atended: Hilton Head Island South Carolina, USA National institute for the Clinical application of Behavioural Medicine (NICABM). 
Post Workshop Training intensives attended, Hilton Head Island South Carolina>
USA National institute for the Clinical application of Behavioural Medicine (NICABM).

1992: Jon Kabat-Zinn PHD: Integrating Mindfulness into Behavioural Medicine (1)
Lawrence LeShan PhD: Author: Cancer as a Turning Point.  (1)
David Lee-MEd LSAC – therapeutic storytelling

1993: Dr Emmett Miller, visualisation methods to assist patients.
Ernest Rossi PhD, the Psychobiology of Hypnotherapy (Ericksonian Hypnotherapy).
Ilana Rubenfeld, introduction to Rubenfeld Synergy Method (RSM TM)
Lawrence LeShan PhD: Author: Cancer as a Turning Point. Beyond technique: The Nature of Healing in a Therapeutic Relationship (2)

1994: Dr Emmett Miller – 2nd training: visualisation methods to assist patients.
Ilana Rubenfeld Art of Self Care (2)
Jon Kabat-Zinn PHD. Integrating Mindfulness into Behavioural Medicine (2)
Lawrence LeShan PhD: Author: Cancer as a Turning Point. (3)
David Lee-MEd LSAC – therapeutic storytelling – use of metaphors to assist emotional, psychological and behavioural change.

1995: Commence 3 x year intensive training New York: with Dr  Ilana Rubenfeld USA (RSM TM) – Body Psychotherapy for 2 years.  Incorporates Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, the work of F&L Perls (Germany), Gestalt, the neuropsychology, psychotherapy and other techniques to help patients integrate mind and body and deal with effects of trauma.

1995: Further workshop/studies:
David Lee MEd LSAC:
Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Therapeutic Language.
Ericksonian hypnotherapy and therapeutic storytelling
Dr Rob McNeilly:
Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Therapeutic Language.

Awards and Special Mentions

Awards and special mentions:

1998: In recognition of her unique contribution to breast cancer & women’s health, Grace receives the inaugural Rotary International Jean Harris Award, in recognition for outstanding service to the development and progress of women in society. Australia & South Pacific Region.

1996-1999: Ministerial Advisory Committee for Women’s Health: Invited member by the Hon Marie Tehan, Minister for Health (Vic) to join the new Victorian Government. Ministerial Advisory Committee for Women’s Health. The committee was chaired by Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, AC, DBE, former Australian politician who served as a Senator for Victoria from 1971 to 1987.

Grace's contribution to Cancer Care and Support


1995: Speaker: Ground Breaking Question of Hope conference, University of Bristol.
1995: Introduces intensive training for leaders of active cancer support groups. The Netherlands.
1995: Speaker: the Hospital As a Temple. Personal transformation through crisis. An international working conference for healthcare providers. The Netherlands.

1997:  Speaker: The first complementary and Supportive care medicine practitioner to present a Grand Round Lecture, Austin Hospital, Melbourne.
1997-2005: Grace has personal medical crisis following surgical complications (1997), undergoes world first experimental surgery in The Netherlands. (2002-3)

2005: Invited to the advisory board of  The International journal “Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice” – online (Elsevier Science Direct) and print media. Published in the British Medical Association “Holistic Health” Journal.


2005: Speaker: Birmingham UK, European Association for Cancer Education (EACE) Scientific Key Presentation, research on a therapeutic breast cancer support group model. 

2010: Published in Medical Journal of Australia on importance of accuracy of a high profile cancer story. Also reviewed in the Australian Doctor.

2010-2021: Grace’s Key focus – evolving a not for profit organisation, the Grace Gawler Institute for Cancer Survivorship and Research. Builds professional liaisons with cancer experts worldwide, provide extra services for patients

Grace continues up-skilling with online trainings…
Vessel van der Kolk, trauma specialist. Series.
Singapore Sarcoma Webinar: How Cancer Evades the Immune System.
Webinar The Scientist Magazine
2021: What our microbiomes must teach us about our health and disease.