Robert's Story

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). From the age of 12 I always felt something wasn't quite right, and I often complained to my parents that I couldn't run properly. Just before I was diagnosed, I realised I was feeling extremely fatigued regularly, so I visited my GP who referred me to neurologist Professor Pam McCombe. Diagnosed with MS, I immediately asked: "So how do we cure it?" I quickly discovered there was no cure.


Regular drug treatment - a three-hour transfusion every fewweeks - has worked well to halt the progression of my MS symptoms, although I still struggle with fatigue. Last year, Professor McCombe mentioned an MS clinical trial at the Wesley Research Institute, so I registered for the study. After taking the clinical trial drug alongside my regular infusions, I've seen tremendous benefits.


I can run after my niece and nephew and catch up to them, my fatigue levels have decreased, my energy levels have increased, and I can think more clearly at work.


I absolutely recommend clinical trials for people looking at alternatives to help them, particularly when it is an illness like MS with no current cure. The WRI Clinical Trials Centre explains everything so clearly and they are extremely friendly.


I believe doing something has got to be better than doing nothing. I feel I am in the position where I need to participate, otherwise I'm not doing my bit for people who will be diagnosed in the future.


Tina's Story

In February 2010, I suffered a debilitating stroke.I spent three weeks in a coma in hospital in intensive care. When I awoke, I had no control of the right side of my body, I could not speak and I had lost my entire memory from the day I was born. I didn't recognise my husband or remember our wedding, and told him we have to get married again.


I was diagnosed with aphasia, a term used to describe a range of language difficulties following damage to certain regions of the brain. I had trouble matching objects with their names and recognising how certain objects should be used.


WRI researchers asked me to participate in a study that would help me identify activity within specific brain regions and help predict better treatment outcomes. I said: "Bring it on!"


In 2011, I had 12 speech therapy sessions over four weeks. The study also included functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans before and after. My head was covered with sensors. The therapy was very helpful, particularly the sound-based therapy where words were broken into syllables and sounds. I'm gradually recovering. I can smile again, my speech is improving, I can walk with a stick, I'm regaining movement in my right arm and my memory is returning.


Being involved in this research study has allowed me to turn this experience into one that may help other stroke sufferers to receive more targeted treatment in the future.


Garry's Story

In 1992 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. I was 33 years old and playing AFL in Bundaberg when I experienced a mini stroke during a game. At the time I thought it was just a knock to the head, so I played on.


A week later at training practice, the left side of my body suddenly stopped working and I fell to the ground. After a visit to the hospital and my GP, I was sent for a scan which revealed a brain tumour. I have been diagnosed with several tumours during the past two decades, and just recently I began battling yet another.


I have concentrated a lot of my time raising awareness for brain cancer and starting an initiative called Orange Thumbs raising research funds by running marathons on the open road and on shopping centre treadmills where I can talk to inquisitive shoppers.


WRI researcher and Wesley Hospital Radiation Oncologist Dr David Schlect is managing my stereotactic radiosurgery. This is a specialised form of external beam radiation therapy which delivers an extremely accurate dose of radiation. Once the radiosurgery is complete, I will begin chemotherapy treatment.


Although my battle with brain cancer is far from over, I'm remaining positive throughout my treatment and focusing my attention on raising awareness through Orange Thumbs. Brain tumours affect people of all ages, and it's important for the community to continually support the vital research that could improve treatment and survivorship.


Allie's Story

When I was 21 years old, I was a law student, had recently retired from competitive ice skating and was diagnosed with bone cancer. It was a very rare cancer, a low grade osteosarcoma in my tibia, right next to my knee.


My orthopaedic surgeon and Wesley Research Institute bone cancer researcher, Dr Scott Sommerville, told me I was very lucky not to have broken my leg as the growth had 'eaten' through about 7cm x 3cm of my tibia. It took Dr Sommerville and his team over 7 hours in surgery to take out 10cm of my tibia and my knee and insert metal prostheses. Dr David Theile, a plastic surgeon, created a muscle flap to protect the prosthesis and a very large skin graft.


I spent a month at the Wesley Hospital where the fantastic nurses and Dr Sommerville took care of me, and then another 4 months on crutches learning how to walk again. Eight years later, I am an Associate at Minter Ellison Lawyers, verging on becoming an international ice skating judge and am free from cancer. The surgery has left me with a pretty impressive scar, but I don't hide it away. I think it's something to be proud of. I have fairly good function of my leg, but am unable to run (totally overrated if you ask me!) and ice skating is a little too dangerous (I wouldn't want to ruin Dr Sommerville's masterpiece!).


The research undertaken by the Wesley Research Institute in conjunction with orthopaedic surgeons like Dr Sommerville is vital in developing better treatment options and one day, a cure for cancer.




The Wesley Research Institute (WRI) is an independent not-for-profit medical research institute established in 1994 and located in the grounds of The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane.


WRI’s research support services include:

  • Funding research projects
  • Scientific research plan assistance
  • Biostatistical support
  • Research education and training
  • Research collaborative network establishment
  • Infrastructure (facilities and equipment)
  • Clinical trial services
  • Tissue banking
  • Data management


Wesley Research Institute’s differentiation is to work directly with patients and clinicians to improve patient care and quality of life through:

  • Faster, more accurate diagnosis
  • Fewer, less severe side effect
  • New treatment for faster, improved recovery
Organisation Details
PO Box 499, Toowong, QLD 4066
Contact details: 

+61 7 3721 1510