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 worked with doctors in Iraq, Chicago, and Africa throughout his career. 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.
Gerry was a premier medical doctor in Ireland and beyond, but to me, my parents, my brothers and sisters, and my cousins here in America, he was just 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 trenchcoat, 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 multilpe 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, a 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. As it says on their website: There is hope, and that hope is in research.
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