22 February 1926 – 26 December 2015
Love for God, love for Humphry and love for people – passions that define the life of a unique lady.
“Initially, I will miss the patients whose courage has so often been inspirational and the daily contact with my colleagues, but I look forward to having more time with Humphry and our extended family, to supervising the gardener, to enjoying the matinees at QPAC [Queensland Performing Arts Centre], reading the ‘must do’ books that have been neglected, having morning tea or lunch with friends.” These were the closing remarks from Tess at her retirement celebration in 2009.
Retirement years that were all too short.
Tess compacted into one lifetime a wide and deep array of achievements and contributions. For this, she received numerous awards and accolades – to reduce these to a biographical list seems an injustice at this time. Soon, the Australian Pain Society will present this in detail on our website.
As Tess grew up in Emerald, the Brophy family would from time-to-time have the town doctor, Roger Bennet, for dinner. Later, the same Dr Bennet worked with Tess in pioneering work on basic life support that led to reintroduction of expired air resuscitation. When Dr Bennet developed unrelieved cancer pain, he called on Tess for help. This led to Tess establishing the Pain Centre in 1967 – multidisciplinary from its inception. It evolved under her leadership to an internationally recognised centre for patient care, education and research and was renamed in 2008 to the Professor Tess Cramond Multidisciplinary Pain Centre (PTCMPC) – a fitting legacy.
“No man or women is an island”, a favourite saying of Tess reflected her belief in the multidisciplinary approach to pain management and the people and purpose of the Australian Pain Society. She attended every annual scientific meeting from the inaugural Gold Coast gathering to only recently stopping when her health kept her at home. Even when she couldn’t attend, her interest persisted especially in whom was delivering her named lecture.
Tess talked with excitement of her anaesthetic registrar years at the London and Poplar Hospitals in the 1950s. It was during these years that she was presented to the Queen (born in the same year) at Buckingham Palace for her achievement in anaesthetic examinations; had an audience with the Pope at Castle Gandolfo; enjoyed the Edinburgh Festival, the Dublin Horseshow and the Mozart Bicentenary Festival in Salzburg. She attended six weddings and was a bridesmaid. Despite all these adventures, Tess retorted that she “still managed to pass the Fellowship exams!”
Tess set a high standard and expected her staff to keep up – one of her many memorable qualities. Primarily, this standard was to promote and practice uncompromising patient focused care. Her high standard extended to all areas including the passionate correction of spelling and grammatical errors with reference to the Oxford English dictionary! The tapping of her pen on the table maintained order and punctuality during team meetings. She arrived early to work, left late and was seen pacing the corridors of the hospital on most weekends reviewing patients – relieving the duties of her consultant colleagues who were actually on call for that weekend.
The patients were always her number one priority.
Tess referred to the PTCMPC staff as her extended family and all of her team knew that they were highly valued. As Christmas approached each year, the staff would be individually called into the boss’s office to be presented with their gifts – thoughtfully chosen and wrapped. Her tremendous generosity also extended to hosting many dinners for colleagues and friends at her beloved Moreton Club and United Services Club. At APS and IASP meetings, she would gather the researchers and clinicians from Brisbane and find a local restaurant – Humphry would pick up the bill!
In 1974, Tess became a founding member of the Brisbane branch of the Order of Malta – a lay Catholic Order of Chivalry whose members were committed to helping the poor and the sick. Tess talked of and lived out the Physicians’ Prayer, “Give skill to my hand, clear vision to my mind, kindness and sympathy to my heart. Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift at least a part of the burden of my suffering fellowmen and a true realization of the rare privilege that is mine.” She often mentioned how great a privilege it was to practise medicine.
Tess was a junior medical resident at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in the early 1950s. One day, in a crowded lift a senior colleague quipped, “You have lost a lot of weight Doctor, is it tuberculosis or unrequited love?” Tess replied, “Sir, I have no time for love – requited or otherwise – I am a medical resident”. To this, the supervisor responded, “Have your chest x-rayed and bring it to me this morning.” No tuberculosis but later in life, Tess found requited love in Humphry Cramond – they married in 1985 when Tess was 59. Tess would always say, “He was worth waiting for.” Humphry and Tess knew each other from medical student days when Tess was one of the women students who served afternoon tea at Humphry’s graduation ceremony. Tess and Humphry – a devoted couple separated only by Humphry’s death in 2014.
Tess died peacefully on the 26th December 2015.
She will be remembered.
She will be missed.