It is with great sadness that the RCN team learned that Professor Laurie Hendren had passed away on May 27, 2019 after a long battle with cancer.
Laurie was an engaged and vocal patient representative on the RCN Quality Council for over two years. She was passionate about the need to empower cancer patients during the treatments and to put their needs and views at the heart of our projects.
She was a professor of computer science at McGill, renowned for her excellence in research and teaching. She received numerous awards for her academic achievements and was an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Recently, she was named the 2019 recipient of the Dahl-Nygaard prize, one of the most prestigious awards in computer science. Her research was her passion and she loved to teach and share her knowledge with her students.
After receiving radiotherapy for breast cancer at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in 2014, Laurie saw a need for patients to easily access their data and play an informed role in their medical care as they moved through the healthcare system. She began collaborating with a medical physicist and radiation oncologist from the MUHC in the development of a new online patient portal called Opal. She was instrumental in the development of all aspects of Opal, including its design, the technical details, and advocacy within the MUHC and across the province.
The Opal patient application is in pilot phase and is being used by almost 200 patients at the Cedars Cancer Centre of the MUHC. Opal has received a number of awards, including a Prix de cancérologie, and it has been nominated for the 2019 Prix d’excellence du Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux.
In November 2018, Laurie received a $100,000 grant from the Rossy Cancer Network to develop a version of the Opal app for family and caregivers of cancer patients. The Opal team is working closely with the MUHC and the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to ensure that Laurie's vision of patient access to their own data is available to all Quebecers.