Tommie Gorman, R.I.P.

Tommie Gorman addressing the audience at the NET Patient Day 2023
Tommie Gorman addressing the audience at the NET Patient Day 2023

We are all saddened by the sudden death of our Founder and President, Tommie Gorman.
The idea of a patient support and advocacy group for Irish neuroendocrine patients came from Tommie. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1994 while living in Brussels. He travelled to Uppsala in Sweden and received excellent care which is documented in the documentary he made for RTÉ called “Europe, Cancer and Me”.

He had well publicised disagreements with Irish medics on the lack of NET knowledge and care in Ireland and the need to travel abroad for his treatment. This triggered a crusade for Tommie to try to get Ireland to develop NET services in Ireland. He set about trying to influence and cajole the HSE into setting up NET systems. Prof Donal O’Shea was first onboard and he included a NET clinic as part of his endocrine clinic in St Vincent’s Hospital.

Tommie recognised that a patient support group was needed and he organised a patient focused side-bar as part of a Cork medical conference on NETs in 2011. The following year, he pushed to have a medical conference in Trinity College in Dublin and again persuaded the medics to have a side-bar specially for patients. At this, he asked patients to stay back afterwards and he put out what he had in mind for patient group. He asked for volunteers and that was how NET Patient Network first came into existence.

Naturally, Tommie didn’t want the spotlight but he directed and provided the leadership to get the fledgling organisation off the ground. In 2013 we held our own dedicated patient day in Kilkenny which was an enormous success and which has been repeated as an annual event which continues to grow year on year. Meanwhile Tommie continued to push the HSE and the NCCP for a dedicated National Lead for NETs and a dedicated NET Centre in St Vincent’s.

He was successful in achieving this with the appointment of Prof Dermot O’Toole in 2015 and the establishment of the NET Clinic, which then became an international NET Centre of Excellence with the award by ENETS in 2017.

Tommie has always been the father figure in our organisation and he continued to work silently in the background to ensure that Irish NET patients received the best and most up to date services available.
He worked diligently with medics and with the health authorities to advocate for Gallium-68 PET/CT scanning and then to get PRRT which was formally opened this year in St Vincent’s where Tommie spoke at the launch ceremony.

He will be missed terribly by the NET community in Ireland and there will be a vacuum in the leadership and friendship that he provided to all of us. Our sympathies lie with Tommie’s family, his wife Ceara, his daughter Moya and his son Joe. They were the greatest loves of his life.

NET Patient Network will continue and will strive to be the organisation he dreamt of and to be the legacy that he leaves behind to the cancer community in Ireland.

May he rest in peace.