By Bev Jordan
JAMES BUTLER from Norwest who was awarded an OAM for service to people with cancer Council Volunteer is a cancer survivor and committed volunteer.
He has been “overwhelmed” by the reaction to his award which he says has been very humbling. “At the front of my mind it has always been about improving the lives of cancer patients,” he told the Hills to Hawkesbury News.
James was 39 years old with four young children and running his own business when he was first diagnosed with the blood cancer non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
While he was having intensive chemotherapy at Westmead Hospital, one of his driving motivations was to survive long enough to see his four young children grow up.
“My prognosis was not good,” he says. When the cancer recurred four years later, he had more chemotherapy and an autologous bone marrow transplant (which used his own bone marrow stem cells).
“It showed how much cancer research had advanced in those four years as there were more options for treatment,” he says. “When I left hospital for the second time with my life intact I promised to give something back.”
That promise has resulted in over 30 years of volunteering with the Cancer Council which has seen James take on campaigns lobbying for parking provisions for cancer patients undergoing treatment at Westmead Hospital, No smoking areas in public spaces, a dedicated palliative care ward at Westmead Hospital to name a few plus fundraising.
James, who now has six much-loved grandchildren, has been a Board Member of Cancer Council NSW since 2014, Co-Chair, Aboriginal Advisory Committee, since 2020 and is Chair, Consumer Research Review Panel, Chair of the Relay for Life Steering Committee and member of the Relay for Life Task Force and is Past Chair of the Hills Community Cancer Network.
James has run Daffodil Day Fundraising Events and was on the Hills Relay for Life Organising Committee for over 20 years including Chair and was chair for 5 years of the Western Sydney Cancer Advocacy Network.
He has also advocated the Western Sydney Local Health District as a Community Representative on the Cancer Services Committee and a Governance Committee member for The Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre.
He was named a Global Relay for Life Hero for Hope by the American Cancer Society in 2014.