Lisa and The Prof: Making waves on the water and in the community

In 2015, Lisa Greissl was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. With what has been described as a “miracle” outcome with thanks to one incredible man, you can now find her with her boat “The Prof” on the beautiful Lake Macquarie with a great big smile, immense gratitude and a beaming love for life.

Oncologist and passionate rower, the late Professor Martin Tattersall, has inspired Lisa to make waves on the water, and in the community.

“No gift that I could buy was enough to thank Tattersall for saving my life, for giving me the chance to see my two beautiful daughters grow up” – said Lisa, who has since founded a charity in his honor to raise funds for vital cancer research and support Australian cancer patients undergoing grueling treatments.

The Big Hug Box provides carefully curated cancer care packages that empower and support patients facing a cancer diagnosis. These special packages are available to purchase for a loved one or to donate to an anonymous patient, Australia-wide.

Finding rowing and friendship through cancer

Lisa hasn’t always rowed; she used to run. Experiencing side-effects of her life-saving treatment, Lisa was first introduced to rowing after noticing rowers on the water one morning; that same day she enquired about the Learn to Row Program at the Lake Macquarie Rowing Club. It wasn’t long until Lisa developed a fierce love for rowing, a sport that was more suited to her new physical abilities.

On a routine check-up a couple of years after her treatment with Professor Tattersall, Lisa excitedly told Professor Tattersall that her recovery had been greatly aided by her new love of rowing.

“I will never forget that moment” – Lisa says. “There was a pause and a smile in the conversation, I would have never thought going to an oncology appointment would end with a deep discussion about the technique and skill of rowing, it was so nice to have another connection with The Prof besides just talking about cancer. As time went on, I was so grateful to talk less about cancer and more about rowing with The Prof.”

Since discovering rowing in 2017, with persistence and determination, Lisa has achieved success in the 2022 Australian Rowing Championships winning silver for PR3 Mixed Coxed 4, PR3 500m Single Scull Sprint and representing NSW in the PR3 Interstate Women’s Single Scull.

“The passing of the Prof was incredibly hard for me and was a shock, a man who had dedicated so much of his life to saving lives of those affected by cancer. Whilst I can no longer talk about rowing with The Prof, I row for him and what he represented – compassion, care and determination, in a boat named in his honor” – said, Lisa

Waves of kindness in the community

In addition to rowing for The Prof, Lisa recognised the importance that research funding played in supporting Professor Tattersall to save her life. In 2018, Lisa founded The Big Hug Box, a charity that has now delivered thousands of specialised cancer care packages to Australians doing it tough and raised over $35,000 for cancer research.

“Our boxes are designed to provide comfort and care to someone facing a cancer diagnosis, to let them know they’re not alone in all of this” – says Lisa “Each box includes carefully curated items from Australian businesses, that are designed to address common side effects from cancer treatments, with all profits supporting vital cancer research, and the cancer community.”

The Big Hug Box is available to purchase and send Australia-wide, for anyone facing cancer. To send a Big Hug, visit:

Big Hugs can also be donated to surprise and support an anonymous cancer patient as part of our Random Act of Kindness initiative. To donate a Big Hug, visit:

To support Lisa and The Big Hug Box, visit or follow us on social media @thebighugbox

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