Vale Denis Strangman

DENIS STRANGMAN AM - (29 June 1942 - 26 April 2023)

Brain Tumour Alliance Australia (BTAA) is sad to report the death of Denis Strangman, who passed away from oesophageal cancer aged 81 on 26th April.  A devoted family man, Denis embarked on his brain tumour odyssey following his wife Margaret’s diagnosis of glioblastoma in 2000.

Denis’s determined and unique brand of advocacy took him all over the world in pursuit of better outcomes for brain tumour patients. As a result of his selfless work in the neuro-oncology field, Denis was honoured with the Member in the General Division – the Order of Australia Medal (AM) in 2015 “For significant service to community health through advocacy, public policy, and support organisations for people with brain tumours”.

At the time Denis said, “I think I am just the symbolic recipient on behalf of several thousands of others – all patients and carers and former carers deserve an award.” 

Denis served as the founding Chair of the International Brain Tumour Alliance from 2005 to 2014, and also served as the consumer representative on various government and non-government committees in Australia, as well as on working groups for palliative care medications and clinical practice guidelines for adult glioma.

He was a co-founder of Brain Tumour Alliance Australia and, in 2014 was the recipient of the Society for Neuro-Oncology’s Public Service Award.

Matt Pitt, the inaugural Chair of Brain Tumour Alliance Australia, in a recent letter to Denis said, “Sorry to hear you are so unwell. I have long been meaning to express my thanks to you for mentoring and guiding me in patient advocacy and awareness-raising for all these years, starting with you reaching out to help me as a 19-year-old newly diagnosed brain tumour patient. 

I think of all the patients and families you helped in your current situation over the years around the world, and am struck anew by your tenacity, humility, and love for the vulnerable individual human condition, underpinned by a formidable intelligence. 

Your global perspective awakened me to the problems of unearned arrogance in Australia and NZ regarding our relative capacities and what we can learn from the rest of the world. This awareness has helped me ever since in my ‘portfolio’ career of chemical toxicology, medical device assessment, regulatory policy, and quality management.” 

More personally, your guidance and encouragement to back your own judgement and risk preferences helped my daughter have a better outcome than the ‘default pathway’ being suggested when she was born with a serious health condition. She is now five years old and recently she was given the ‘all clear’ to no longer require medical monitoring, and I thought it a fitting personal culmination of your 20+ years of advising me and many years more of your advocacy for improving the health system. 

Thank you again Denis and I hope persons of your calibre are at your bedside, given you’ve fulfilled this role countless times over the many years. You served the memory of your late wife Margaret admirably, and I wish you peace in the short time left before you rejoin her. “

Brain tumour patients throughout Australia and across the world have received the benefits of Denis’ efforts, through his guidance and care, his expertise, advice and advocacy, and through support programs. He will be greatly missed.

Vale Denis Strangman AM