Dr June Canavan was a much loved sports physician and family doctor living and working on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. Her life was cut short when she died in a plane crash while travelling to Kokoda, Papua New Guinea in August 2009.
Athletes from all over Australia came to see her at her Sunshine Coast Sports Medicine Clinic. She was a wonderful diagnostician and was able to instill confidence and optimism in athlete’s who had been passed around the medical system with no resolution to their problem. Once in her care, athletes felt sure that their problems would be fixed. She oozed a calming confidence, assuring athletes that together they would “get to the bottom of it”. June was also the team doctor for several Australian swimming and triathlon teams, travelling overseas to world championships and other major sporting events. She received the Australia Sports Medal from the Prime Minister in 2000 in recognition for her services to Australian sport.
June loved her Sunshine Coast community, also providing caring and high quality GP medical services to many families in the area. Stories of “June saved my son’s life” or “I can walk today because of June’s care” abound around the Coast. She listened closely to all of her patients and was renowned for making every single person who stepped into her clinic feel special. She maintained an old tradition of making regular house calls to many of her patients. Even during serious illnesses, she had a passion for ensuring that people were able to stay in their own homes with their families as long as possible and would go out of her way to provide home-based care for them.
June was originally a Wangaratta girl, attending Wangaratta High School and representing country Victoria in netball. She left Wangaratta in her early 20’s to pursue her netball career in New Zealand. She completed her medical degree at the University of Queensland in 1979 and opened her first medical practice in 1986. In 2006 she lived in Lausanne, Switzerland while completing a Master of Sport Management degree.
June died part way through a major fundraising project called “Klocking up the Ks”. Her plan was to walk / climb up five peaks starting with the letter K during 2009. Her aim was to raise $50,000 for the School of St Jude in Tanzania. The Kokoda Track was going to be the fourth “K” in the project. Earlier in the year, she had started with Kiel Mountain (on which she lived), then headed south to walk to Mount Kosciuszco. In May she climbed to the peak of Mount Kinabulu in Borneo. After walking the Kokoda Track in August, she planned to finish off the project by climbing to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro before delivering her $50,000 to the School of St Jude in nearby Arusha, Tanzania.