THE friends, family and colleagues of Newcastle cardiologist Dr Angela Worthington hope to establish a research grant in her name after her fast and fierce battle with motor neurone disease.
The "loving wife and mother of two" died in the early hours of February 11 - five months after she was diagnosed with the "devastating" and debilitating disease.
She was 45.
"It was very quick," her sister, Stevie Worthington, said.
"It just happened so fast.
"It was a really rapid deterioration."
Motor neurone disease (MND) causes progressive and severe weakness of the muscles that enable a person to move, speak, breathe and swallow.
In many cases, it has a poor life expectancy.
There are few treatments, and no cure.
Ms Worthington said her sister had been "very tired" prior to her diagnosis, but she had initially put her fatigue down to "80-hour weeks" and a challenging work schedule.
She said Dr Worthington had been in high demand as a cardiologist at her New Lambton Heights practice - Newcastle Cardiology - where she had a 12-month waiting list of loyal patients.
But she'd had a "hard slog" to become a specialist.
"She had kids while she was going through med school," Ms Worthington said. "Anecdotally, she told me how hard it was for her to get respect because she had children and responsibilities... She fought really hard to get where she was. And she was just on the cusp of even bigger things.
"She had been the director of cardiology at the Mater...
"It is just so sad that she has been cut down just as she had the most influence."
Ms Worthington said her sister had been an important role model, particularly for women in medicine. She had been a "great advocate" and mentor for women in cardiology - a specialty where research had shown that more female cardiologists improved the outcomes of female patients. Dr Worthington had also tutored indigenous medical students.
"She knew first hand how hard it was for females to get ahead, and particularly, how hard it was for people of diverse backgrounds to get ahead," she said. "When she set up her specialist practice, she made sure she did visits up the coastline and into the Hunter Valley to make sure she was providing help to people out there too - particularly indigenous people."
The fundraiser hopes to raise $100,000 for the MND Research Institute of Australia via makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au.
"It makes me so happy, and so proud, that her friends are doing this," Ms Worthington said.
"We do need more research for MND, and to have something set up in her name would be monumental. It shows that an individual in a regional area can really make a difference, and contribute towards research into a very horrible - terrible - disease."
Stockton GP Dr Adrian Plaskitt described Dr Worthington as a passionate, enthusiastic and energetic specialist with an empathetic ear and a holistic, detailed approach to health. He said she had inspired her patients, and colleagues, with her warmth and diligence.
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